On Sunday 12th March, there were two main Brexit stories in the papers.
Following on from the conclusion that the UK does not have to pay tens of billions in a divorce settlement, The Times reports that we can ask for our £9 billion in the EU bank to be paid back when we close our account
"Theresa May will call on Brussels to hand back £9bn of UK assets held by an EU bank when she fires the Brexit starting gun — dramatically cutting Britain’s final bill.
Senior government sources say that when the prime minister triggers article 50, she will point out that Britain is entitled to the return of funds held by the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Legal advice circulating in Whitehall — seen by The Sunday Times — says that not only is the government not legally obliged to pay Brussels a penny, but the EU should pay Britain for its share of the funds in the EIB.
That will allow May to argue that EU demands for Britain to pay €60bn — about £53bn — in contributions to the EU budget and money to plug the deficit in its own pension scheme is unacceptable.
The prime minister will kick-start two years of negotiations as early as Tuesday by sending a letter to Brussels spelling out her demands. It will make clear that the UK will take control of money, immigration and laws, after the referendum last June."
Meanwhile, the Observer quotes a report from the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee criticising the govt. for not planning for the No Deal Scenario
"Theresa May has been accused by a powerful parliamentary committee of putting the national interest at risk by failing to prepare for the “real prospect” that two years of Brexit negotiations could end with no deal.
The criticism – and warnings of dire consequences – is levelled at May by the all-party foreign affairs select committee only days before she is expected to trigger article 50 – the formal process that will end the UK’s 44-year membership of the European Union.
After a detailed inquiry into what would happen if Brexit negotiations failed, the Tory chairman of the committee, Crispin Blunt, a supporter of leaving the EU, said: “The possibility of ‘no deal’ is real enough to require the government to plan how to deal with it.
“But there is no evidence to indicate that this is receiving the consideration it deserves or that serious contingency planning is under way. The government has repeatedly said that it will walk away from a ‘bad’ final deal. That makes preparing for ‘no deal’ all the more essential.
“Last year, the committee described the government’s failure to plan for a leave vote as an act of gross negligence. This government must not make a comparable mistake.”
His committee’s report says Brexit talks could break down for several reasons, including a deal being torpedoed at the 11th hour by the European parliament. The UK would be cast adrift and have to trade on World Trade Organisation rules, an outcome that would risk serious economic damage.
“It is clear from our evidence that a complete breakdown in negotiations represents a very destructive outcome, leading to mutually assured damage to the EU and the UK. Both sides would suffer economic losses and harm to their international reputations. Individuals and businesses in both the UK and EU could be subject to considerable uncertainty and legal confusion. It is a key national and European Union interest that such a situation is avoided.”
The conclusions are likely to embolden MPs – including a number of Tory rebels – who will insist on Monday that the government guarantee them a vote before any decision is made to leave the EU without a deal."