• UK liable for ‘divorce bill’ even with no Brexit trade deal – NAO chief: The UK will have to pay its Brexit “divorce bill” of up to £39bn even if no agreement is reached on a future trade deal with the EU, the head of Whitehall’s spending watchdog has said. The head of the National Audit Office (NAO), Sir Amyas Morse, said on Tuesday that if parliament approves the withdrawal agreement in a vote in the autumn, it will become a legally binding treaty regardless of the success of separate trade talks. His remarks are a blow for Theresa May, who has said she will not pay Brussels the money if it denies Britain a post-Brexit trade deal. The prime minister told the Commons in December that the cash offer was made “in the context of us agreeing the partnership for the future”. “If we don’t agree that partnership, then this offer is off the table,” she said.
  • Britons set to be charged €7 fee to visit EU countries under new Brussels plans: The European Union is moving forward with plans to charge travellers coming from countries outside the single market a €7 “travel authorisation fee” to cross into its territory, under a new system of checks designed to improve security on the bloc’s borders. British travellers are likely to be hit by the scheme after Brexit, which is set to apply to all visa-exempt countries outside the EU, except those in the EEA/EFTA, which maintain free movement with the union. Under the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) people coming into the Schengen area would need to fill out an online form ahead of their trip and apply for travel authorisation, as well as pay the fee.
  • Northern Ireland border solution needed by June, says Guy Verhofstadt: A solution to the Brexit Northern Ireland border problem realistically needs to be found before the European Council summit at the end of June, the European parliament’s Brexit chief has said. Guy Verhofstadt said the October deadline Britain is working to would be “late” for a deal on the border because other issues also needed to be agreed by the autumn. Mr Verhofstadt was speaking on Wednesday morning as UK Brexit Secretary David Davis admitted that a “substantial” agreement on the future relationship would need to be reached by October to avoid MPs rejecting the plan.