EU could be forced to pay Britain a Brexit divorce bill, says Boris Johnson

The former Mayor of London also warned Vladimir Putin could interfere with the general election 

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The Independent Online

Boris Johnson says the EU could be forced to pay Britain a Brexit divorce bill as he blasted the bloc's negotiators for trying to “bleed this country white”.

The Foreign Secretary claimed the UK had “very good arguments” to demand money from Brussels after making major contributions to European assets. 

It is expected to cost the UK up to £84bn to settle its liabilities when the country leaves the EU – a figure Mr Johnson branded “absurd”.

He said Britain could “definitely” walk away from negotiations without paying as he accused European officials of “trying it on”.

He told The Daily Telegraph he thought Britain may even end up receiving a payment, saying: “I think there are very good arguments.

“There are assets, I don't want to get too much into the detail of the negotiation but there are assets that we share, that we have paid for over the years and there will need to be a proper computation of the value of those assets.

“I certainly think the bill that's been presented at the moment is absurd.”

Mr Johnson said the EU “is ruthless in its negotiating techniques”, citing a “shameful” leak of details of a meeting between Prime Minister Theresa May, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

“They are going to try to bleed this country white with their bill,” he said.

“The logic behind this bill is absolutely preposterous. We could definitely walk away.”

The former Mayor of London also raised fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin could interfere with the general election “to undermine faith in democracy altogether and to discredit the whole democratic process”.

He told The Telegraph Mr Putin would “rejoice” if Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was elected and said a hack attack “is a realistic possibility” after NHS hospitals were hit by a major cyber attack.

“Putin would certainly rejoice to see British defences weakened, Britain’s foreign policy become less active, to see us detached from the United States, that would be absolute grist to Putin’s mill, that would be just what he wants,” he added.

“Clearly we think that is what he did in America, it's blatantly obvious that's what he did in France.

“In the western Balkans he is up to all sorts of sordid enterprises, so we have to be vigilant.”