EU demands for Brexit payments are 'extortionate', says Boris Johnson

Foreign Secretary tells European officials to 'go whistle' if they want UK to pay bill

Benjamin Kentish
Tuesday 11 July 2017 14:29
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Boris Johnson says the sums the EU are demanding for Brexit are extortionate

The European Union is demanding “extortionate” amounts of money from the UK over Brexit and should “go whistle”, Boris Johnson has said.

The Foreign Secretary criticised EU officials who have reportedly demanded Britain pays a €100bn (£88bn) exit bill in order to extract itself from its European treaty obligations.

Mr Johnson was responding to Tory MP Philip Hollobone during Foreign Office Questions in the House of Commons.

Mr Hollobone said Britain had already given the EU and its predecessors a total of £209bn since the UK joined the European Economic Community, the precursor to the EU, in 1973. The Government should “make it clear to the EU that if they want a pennypiece more they can go whistle”, he said.

In response, Mr Johnson said his colleague’s words would have “broken like a thunderclap over Brussels and they will pay attention to what he has said”.

“The sums that I have seen that they propose to demand from this country seem to me to be extortionate,” he added.

“I think to go whistle is an entirely appropriate expression.”

Mr Johnson also admitted the Government had “no plan” for a scenario in which Britain left the EU without an exit deal.

He told MPs: “The chances of such an outcome are vanishingly unlikely since it is manifestly in the interests of both sides of the Channel to get a free trade deal and a new deep and special partnership between us and the European Union, and that is what we are going to achieve.

“There is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal.”

Theresa May has repeatedly insisted that “no deal is better than a bad deal” but, since the general election, ministers have toned down their rhetoric and are now talking down the chances of Britain leaving the EU without an agreement.

Reports in May suggested the EU was demanding an upfront payment of €100bn from the UK to cover a range of debts, including post-Brexit farming payments and EU administration fees. That figure was a significant increase on the €60bn earlier suggested by Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president.

In response, David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, said: "We'll not be paying 100 billion. What we've got to do is discuss in detail what the rights and obligations are.”

Michael Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator in Brexit talks, said no figure would be set until the end of the negotiating process.

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