World

May's spokesman dismisses $35b Brexit divorce offer as 'speculation'

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing to offer up to 20 billion pounds (S$35 billion) more to the European Union as part of a Brexit divorce bill, the Sun newspaper reported yesterday.

But her spokesman said the report is "speculation".

Unless there is movement in the negotiations to unravel more than 40 years of union, Britain may miss a December deadline to move the talks to a discussion of future trade ties, which businesses say is vital for them to make investment decisions.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier has called on Britain to spell out how far it would "honour its obligations" to break the deadlock.

Brexit minister David Davis said on Sunday that Britain will not offer a figure or a formula for how much it believes it owes the European Union.

Meanwhile, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said yesterday there was a broad understanding in Britain and in Europe of the importance of reaching a transition deal for Brexit and a good trade and investment deal after that.

"The government recognises; parliamentarians, businesses, people across the country, people in Europe recognise as well that it is in everyone's interest to have at a minimum a transition period to the new relationship," Mr Carney said in an interview with ITV television.

He said there was also recognition of the need for "as comprehensive and open a trading and investment partnership between the UK and the EU 27 at the end of that transition".

Mr Carney has argued that a transition deal would help smooth Britain's exit and reduce the risk of a shock when the world's fifth-biggest economy leaves the bloc in March 2019. - REUTERS

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