According to reports European Commission chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said that the UK needs to fork out £10 billion to meet the EU’s pension pot liabilities.
But the claim has been roundly dismissed by senior Tory MEP David Campbell Bannerman who has paid into the pension pot himself and said that the Commission has ignored the facts to try to get more money.
Mr Campbell Bannerman pointed out that while the UK has 12 per cent of the population of the EU it has only ever provided four per cent of the staff.
This means that the UK owes at most one third of the Commission’s initial claim.
Mr Campbell Bannerman said: “It really makes you wonder what the point is in continuing with these negotiations.
“This yet another example of the Commission massively inflating its claims.
“Britain has always had a much lower share of EU staff than its population share so our liabilities are not very high at all.”
He went on: “It is reasonable for Britain to take on the liabilities of British people in the pension schemes but certainly no more.”
The demand is part of a £59 billion total liabilities which the Commission identified last year based on the UK’s current share of the EU budget.
It follows demands of up to £78 billion from the Commission for Britain to pay the EU as a divorce bill to support its wasteful spending.
Earlier this week Mr Barnier insisted that he will not allow talks to progress on to trade if a divorce bill is not agreed next month.
But his intransigent position has made the chances of the talks breaking down altogether much more likely.
Mr Campbell Bannerman said: “We cannot just continue going round in circles with these ludicrous demands.”
Earlier this month the Daily Express revealed that international trade secretary Liam Fox is preparing to publish evidence that a “no deal” with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules will make Britain better off than it is with its current EU membership.
A paper by former British Chambers of Commerce director John Longworth revealed that under WTO the UK economy could grow by £150 billion a year through deregulation and setting up new trade deals for 12 years.
In addition the UK would make a £8 billion profit from tariffs paid to the UK from the EU compared to the UK paying to the EU.
This means that the £5 billion paid in tariffs by British companies could be paid for out of the £13 billion the Exchequer would receive from Europe.
The row came as a new International Free Trade (IFT) thinktank backed by Dr Fox, foreign secretary Boris Johnson and international development secretary Priti Patel was launched yesterdayWEDS.
Mr Johnson insisted that more free trade would spread peace and help ease poverty worldwide.
He said: “Free trade is not only the key to economic success, but also serves as a force for peace and progress in every sense, giving millions more people the chance to lift themselves out of poverty.
“We must ensure that Global Britain breaks free of the constraints of the EU and becomes the world’s leading proselytiser and agitator for free trade.
“I am delighted to attend the launch of the Institute for Free Trade and to support its noble mission. It is no exaggeration to say that the livelihoods of millions of people depend on its success.”
Dr Fox added: “Our work as an international economic department has never been more critical in making the moral case for free trade to help provide economic stability and lift millions out of poverty, whilst increasing productivity and offering consumers better choices.
“There are huge opportunities for the UK to be a global leader in helping growing economies realise the benefits of open and fair trade, and the launch of the Institute for Free Trade will further help us highlight the importance trade has on the prosperity of the world economy.”
IFT president, Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, said Brexit provided an opportunity to “revitalise the global trading system”.
“It’s not every day that a G7 country gets to draw up new tariff schedules,” he said.
“If we open our markets, we can preserve the freest trade with our 27 EU allies while liberalising further with the other 162 World Trade Organisation members.
“To succeed, we must convince people that free trade, far from being exploitative, is the ultimate instrument of poverty alleviation, conflict resolution and social justice.”
September 27th, 2017: Express