DIVIDE AND CONQUER: Theresa May urged to leave with NO Brexit deal to tear EU unity apart

THERESA May is being urged to call Europe’s bluff by refusing to pay the Brexit divorce bill and plan for no deal with Brussels.

Senior Conservatives suggested the threat would be a way of exploiting divisions between Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and other member states.Negotiations with the EU have made slow progress so far, with the UK locked in discussions with Brussels about how much it will cost to exit.

The dispute could lead to a delay in moving on to the next round of negotiations where the Government wants to thrash out future trade arrangements.

Michael Barnier and Theresa MayGETTY

Theresa May is being urged to plan for a (‘No deal’)

It is claimed Mr Barnier made pledges to the other European Union (EU) member states that they would not have to pay more once Britain leaves.By threatening to walk away without paying, Mr Barnier might be forced to soften his stance on payment, a Cabinet minister said.

The minister told The Telegraph: “We need to start working up plans for no deal so that the EU knows we could walk away without paying a single penny.”

The divorce bill could be as high as £91billion (€100bn) if Brussels gets its way.

Theresa MayGETTY

The Prime Minister is expected to toughen her stance on the EU

Brexit Secretary David Davis has previously admitted the Government and EU have “significant differences” over the size of the payment.Last week, a number of Tory Eurosceptics also urged Mrs May to work up a strategy for no deal.

Tory MP Julian Lewis said: “If we did finish without a deal, within a year or two we could end up with a very good deal.

“We should call their bluff.”

And MP John Redwood said the slow-moving negotiations were unsurprising as the EU often left vital decisions until the last moment.He said: “I’m quite relaxed. We can trade perfectly well under World Trade Organisation rules.”

The latest interventions came as Theresa May looked to toughen her stance on the EU after being branded “hopeless” by a Tory donor.

Lord Harris of Peckham said Mrs May was leading a weak Government that was divided on Brexit and had no direction.

The Prime Minister is expected to go on the offensive at next months Tory conference with a tough speech on making a clean break from Brussels.Mrs May is expected to resurrect pledges from before her disastrous election campaign, vowing to take back control of the country’s law, borders and finances.

In the meantime, a crunch vote on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will be held in parliament on Monday.

Labour MPs have been told to vote against the legislation, arguing so-called “Henry VIII” powers in the Bill that would allow ministers to alter laws without full parliamentary scrutiny amount to a “power-grab”.

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