LONDON, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Senior government ministers in London Monday night stayed tight-lipped after several hours of talks at 10 Downing Street to discuss Britain's so-called Brexit divorce settlement.
Media in the capital speculated all day that Prime Minister Theresa May and her most senior cabinet colleagues would sign off a Brexit deal worth around 53 billion U.S. dollars.
After the talks broke up there were no media briefings or speeches at the door of No. 10, with ministers ignoring questions from waiting journalists as they left the prime minister's office.
"It remains the position that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed in negotiations with the European Union (EU)," A 10 Downing Street spokesman told Xinhua.
In her last major Brexit speech May had intimated that a payment of around 20 billion pounds (26.5 billion U.S. dollars) was possible. But suggestions circling in the so-called Westminster village said the offer would be doubled at Monday's "secret" meeting to enable talks to begin on a new trade deal between Britain and the EU.
The Daily Mail in London said ten of May's most senior ministers gathered at Downing Street for what the newspaper said could prove to be one of the crucial moments in the Brexit process.
With Brussels demanding to know details of what Britain will pay before trade talks can start, the British government faces finding a formula that keeps negotiations open, without upsetting Brexit supporters, some of whom oppose Britain paying any exit money to the EU.
The Daily Mail commented that ahead of Monday night's Downing Street meeting, May faced a cacophony of complaints from some of her own backbenchers who said the public would 'go bananas' if the government doubles its offer to Brussels.
May refused Monday to reveal the details of any proposal discussed, leaving the only hint from the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond. Hammond said in a Sunday television interview that Britain was preparing to table a new compromise deal before next month's EU summit. The heads of the 27 EU member states are expected to decide at that meeting whether Brexit trade talks can start with Britain.
Meanwhile Jonathan Ashworth, the opposition Labor Party's shadow health secretary, responded Monday night to the European Council's decision to relocate the European Medicines Agency from London to Amsterdam.
"This decision is extremely disappointing. Labor has been clear all along that Britain should seek to maintain membership of the European Medicines Agency. Not only will this relocation see the loss of almost 900 jobs from London, but Britain's reputation as a world leader in the life sciences is under serious threat and patients will likely suffer from longer waits for new medicines," Ashworth said.
"Ministers must urgently reassure the House that the UK will not become a second-tier market as a result of their reckless handling of Brexit, and that the best possible deal for patients and staff remains at the forefront of negotiations," he added.