Theresa May has responded to the European Union’s escalating demands for Britain to pay a Brexit “divorce bill” by claiming that the bloc may owe money to the UK.The European Commission is thought to be seeking a settlement worth 100 billion euros – a move which saw Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage chastise the bloc for “behaving like the mafia” in the European Parliament.
“There is much debate about what the UK’s obligations might be or indeed what our rights might be in terms of money being paid in in the past. We make it clear that we would look at those – both rights and obligations,” the Prime Minister told the Sunday Telegraph.
The newspaper pressed Mrs May on which items Britain may be “owed a proportion” of after Brexit, and she suggested “the [European] Investment Bank, there’s the investment fund, there are various areas.”
She added, “This will be, as you know, an important part of the negotiations.”
According to the Telegraph, this is the first time Conservative leader has laid claim to Britain’s share of the European Investment Bank’s assets, which the Government estimates at around 16 per cent.
It has previously been reported that British officials are working to draw up a register of Britain’s share of EU assets, which should offset its share of liabilities.
Political commentator Leo McKinstry argued a similar point on May 3rd 2017, arriving at an expansive estimate of Britain’s share of EU wealth himself.
“The EU has a huge stock of cash, property, equipment and financial assets. This ‘accumulated wealth’ is thought to be worth around £36 billion, and includes £19 billion in cash, £7.5 billion in property and £8.3 billion in other available-for-sale financial assets,” he explained.
“The property portfolio is particularly enormous, with the EU occupying 1.9million square metres in Brussels alone … On the basis of a 12.5 per cent share of these assets, Britain could be owed £4.5 billion.”
McKinstry further calculated that Britain could be owed £12.1 billion from its share of £97 billion in outstanding loans owed to the bloc, projects already earmarked for completion and yet-to-be-paid budget contributions.
After accounting for collections of art and wine, unpaid student loans, infrastructure and various other items, McKinstry calculated that the EU could, in fact, owe Britain around £58 billion in total.