No deal, no money: UK Brexit minister warns EU won’t get a penny for divorce bill

A UK Brexit minister has warned the EU that if new arrangements on the Irish backstop cannot be agreed to seal a deal, then Britain will refuse to pay the divorce bill, as PM Theresa May prepares for showdown talks with Brussels.

In the wake of parliament giving May the green light to her deal if she can secure “alternative arrangements” to the contentious backstop – the insurance policy that avoids a hard border in Ireland in the event of no deal – UK ministers have been ramping up the pressure on the EU.

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In an interview with the BBC on Wednesday, Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng insisted that compromises would have to be made on the backstop from the EU otherwise it would lead to a no-deal – meaning the UK would not hand over any of the £39 billion divorce bill money.

Kwarteng told the BBC: “The final deal will have some give on the backstop from the EU. We have to look at new arrangements, technology to try and sort out those differences.

“If there is a no-deal they won’t get a penny pinch from us.”

May now has two weeks to broker key changes to the EU Withdrawal Agreement with Brussels, before MPs have another meaningful vote on her deal.

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Early indications show that she is in for a tough task. Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator, has insisted that the Irish border backstop must remain part of the UK’s withdrawal deal from the European Union.