Prime Minister Theresa May says UK could continue paying into the EU budget and sticks to guns on Brexit timetable

 
Hayley Kirton
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May was less clear about when government's Brexit plans would be available for review (Source: Getty)

The Prime Minister has today indicated the UK could keep paying into the EU budget post-Brexit, provided government feels it is getting good value for money.

Responding to a question in parliament from opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn about payments into the EU, Theresa May said it was the government's intention "that those funds will continue to be met, provided they give value for money and meet the UK government's objectives".

Then, when asked by Conservative MP Philip Davies if she would promise the UK would not continue paying into the EU budget following Brexit, Theresa May did not directly rule it out and instead responded:

Obviously while we remain members of the European Union we will continue to have obligations as members of the European Union. I think what's important is when we leave the European Union people want to ensure that it's British government who decide how taxpayers money is spent.

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The European Commission's chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned last week the UK could be handed a bill for between €50bn and €60bn (£50bn) for Brexit to cover the costs of commitments the country had already signed on for.

Earlier this month, both Brexit secretary David Davis and chancellor Philip Hammond indicated they would not rule out continuing contributions to the EU after Brexit.

May also stood her ground on her March deadline for triggering Article 50, saying she was confident she could stick to her timetable regardless of the outcome of the upcoming Supreme Court judgment on whether an Act of Parliament must be put in place before the UK's formal departure process from the EU can begin.

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Roughly a fortnight ago, MPs voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion to trigger Article 50 by the end of next March, with the caveat that they also wanted government to publish its Brexit plans.

While May was bullish on her timetable, she was less outspoken about the plans, remarking: "In negotiations, you don't get the best possible deal by laying out everything in advance. That's the whole point of negotiations."

Responding to a question from Labour's Angela Eagle on when plans for Brexit would be available for MPs to review, adding she presumed it would be before Article 50 was actually triggered, May responded with a concise "yes".

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In a grilling by the Brexit Committee last week, Davis indicated the plans for Brexit would not be ready to look over before February.

May spent the end of last week at an EU summit, which, she reported back to MPs today, the EU leaders discussed issues such as the migrant crisis and the ongoing conflict in Syria. However, she did not attend a short dinner discussion with the other leaders on Brexit.

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