BRITISH taxpayers cannot be forced to pay anything into EU Budget should Brexit talks break up without a deal, a parliamentary report said last night.
And they are likely to be a hammer blow to the demand from senior Eurocrats for Britain to be hit with a swingeing £50billion divorce bill as a punishment for leaving the bloc.
The legal opinion was delivered in the report from the Lords EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee last night.
The UK appears to have a strong legal position in respect of the EU budget post-Brexit and this provides important context to the Article 50 negotiations
“Even though we consider that the UK will not be legally obliged to pay in to the EU budget after Brexit, the issue will be a prominent factor in withdrawal negotiations. The Government will have to set the financial and political costs of making such payments against potential gains from other elements of the negotiations.
“The forthcoming negotiations will be more than just a trial of strength.
“They will be about establishing a stable, cooperative and amicable relationship between the UK and the EU. This will not be possible without good will on both sides.”
Mrs May is expected to activate the EU’s Article 50 around March 15
The Prime Minister has insisted that she is determined to agree a trade deal with the EU by the end of the 24-month window for talks.
And while she has accepted that some financial contributions to the Brussels budget may continue after Britain’s exit, she has declared that days of huge annual payments will be “over”.
In contrast, chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is understood to have prepared a £50billion exit fee to demand once the talks begin.
“This is obviously a important for the negotiations and strengthens our position.”
Ukip MEP Gerard Batten, Brexit spokesman for the anti-Brussels party, said: “The report confirms that Britain is under no legal obligation to continue to the EU budget when we leave.
“I believe we will also be under no moral obligation to continue paying once we leave either.
And a Government spokesman said: “We welcome the significant contribution from the House of Lords to this important debate.
“As this report makes clear, there are a whole range of issues for the UK and the EU, that will need to be addressed as we leave the European Union.
“These issues are subject to negotiation and we won’t get into a running commentary on the details.