UK facing Brexit 'cliff edge' - May

  • 04/09/2017
Theresa May.
Theresa May. Photo credit: Reuters

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has warned MPs Britain could face a Brexit "cliff edge" if they fail to back her EU repeal bill, as reports suggested momentum was growing within her party to unseat her.

With British MPs readying for their first full parliamentary debate on legislation that will sever the country's ties with the European Union, the minister responsible for overseeing the divorce proceedings admitted on Sunday some payments will continue to Brussels after Britain left.

Ms May failed to win a clear mandate at a snap election in June and only has a slim majority in parliament that rests on an agreement with a smaller party. She remains vulnerable if pro-European MPs in her Conservative party team up with other parties to vote down legislation or support amendments.

In Thursday's debate, the main opposition Labour Party is planning to propose several changes to the repeal bill with a view to keeping Britain in the single market and customs union during a Brexit transition period after 2019, according to The Times.

On Saturday, Ms May's deputy advised Conservative MPs against doing anything that would increase Labour's chances of returning to power, while Ms May said the bill was the best way to ensure a successful Brexit and "prevent a cliff-edge".

The Sunday Times said May was preparing to pay a Brexit divorce bill of up to £50 billion to the EU. A spokeswoman said that figure "is simply not true".

Britain's chief Brexit negotiator, David Davis, also dismissed the £50 billion figure.

He did say Britain was likely to end up paying money into the EU budget after Brexit for access to cross-border schemes like space and nuclear research, though the sum would not be large over the medium to long-term.