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May: Divorce bill offer off table without UK agreeing partnership with Brussels

Theresa May has said Britain's offer for its divorce bill with the EU will be off the table if the UK does not agree a future partnership with Brussels.

The Prime Minister told MPs the offer, which she said was likely to be between £35 billion and £39 billion, had been made "in the context of us agreeing the partnership for the future".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Government had scraped through the first phase of talks, as he challenged Mrs May to drop plans to write the date of Brexit into the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

Giving a statement to MPs about progress in the negotiations, the Prime Minister said: "He asked about whether this was conditional on securing a deal.

"It is clear in the joint progress report, I have repeated it in my statement just now, that this offer is on the table in the context of us agreeing the partnership for the future, agreeing the next stage and agreeing the partnership for the future.
"If we don't agree that partnership, then this offer is off the table."

Yesterday Theresa May also urged more than three million European Union nationals living in Britain to stay in the country after Brexit.

Recognising the "underlying anxiety" that Brexit has caused, the Prime Minister said she was "delighted" that their rights would be protected under a deal with the EU on "divorce" issues dealt with in the first phase of exit negotiations.

Mrs May was "proud" that the EU citizens choose to live in the UK, adding in an open letter: "I greatly value the depth of the contributions you make - enriching every part of our economy, our society, our culture and our national life.

"I know our country would be poorer if you left and I want you to stay."

She assured EU citizens their rights would be written into UK law through a Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill which would be brought forward "after we have completed negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement itself".

They will then be enforced by the domestic courts with oversight from the European Court of Justice, whose authority UK judges can consult over rights disputes for eight years after withdrawal.

And from the second half of next year there will be a "transparent, smooth and streamlined" process to apply for settled status that will cost no more than a passport, which is £72.50 for a standard adult version.

Mrs May went on: "So right now, you do not have to do anything at all. You can look forward, safe in the knowledge that there is now a detailed agreement on the table in which the UK and the EU have set out how we intend to preserve your rights - as well as the rights of UK nationals living in EU countries.

"For we have ensured that these negotiations put people first. That is what I promised to do and that is what I will continue to do at every stage of this process.

"I wish you and all your families a great Christmas and a very happy New Year."

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