Brexit: Could France stop payments to UK’s EU rebate?

France should stop contributing to the Britain's EU rebate, French opposition politicians say.

Brexit: Could France stop payments to UK's EU rebate?
Photo: AFP

France should halt its contribution to Britain's European Union rebate, the right-wing opposition Republicans party said
Monday, a day after London said it would start Brexit talks early next year.

France should start talks with Brussels to halt next year's contribution to the rebate even though the process of leaving the EU could take up to two years, party spokesman Guillaume Peltier told reporters.

He was reacting to British Prime Minister Theresa May's announcement on Sunday that Britain would trigger Brexit talks by the end of next March.

May “has announced with clarity and precision a timetable for the implementation of Brexit next spring,” he said.

“It seems to us essential that France start a procedure with Brussels saying that from the next budget, the cheque of 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) paid by France each year will not be paid from now on,” he added.

This sum, he explained, was what France paid to the European Union every year as part of its contribution to Britain's EU rebate.

Margaret Thatcher, one of May's predecessors as prime minister, negotiated the rebate in the 1980s. “I want my money back!” she declared in 1980, eventually winning the rebate, worth billions of pounds every year, four years later.

Many observers believe that whoever is eventually chosen as the Republican candidate for next year's presidential election will be well placed to win.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-prime minister Alain Juppe are considered the front-runners among seven contenders in November's right-wing primary.

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Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

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The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.