EU may have to pay ‘Brexit Bill’ to UK, instead of other way around – Boris Johnson
Asked if Brussels could really end up paying a divorce bill after Brexit negotiations, Johnson expressed confidence that “there are very good arguments” to support this view.
“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,” he told the Telegraph.
The paper reported earlier that British government officials have estimated that the UK is entitled to £9 billion ($11 billion) now held by the European Investment Bank, as well as up to £14 billion ($18 billion) for other EU assets, including property, cash, and investments.
At the same time, Johnson slammed Brussels’ financial demands, which envision the UK shelling out at least £60 billion ($77.6 billion).
“They [EU] are going to try to bleed this country white with their bill,” he said, noting that Brussels wants London to pay for all of its projects, many of which have nothing to do with the UK.
“The idea that we should be on the hook for our share of every Commission press release that’s ever been issued in announcing multi-billion pound payments to prawn fishing in Yucatan or whatever, that is not reasonable,” the foreign secretary said.
Johnson also repeated once again that reaching “no deal” with Brussels is better than agreeing to a “bad deal,” adding that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is wrong in thinking that the EU is something “you can check out [from] but you can never leave.”
“We could definitely walk away [without paying]. [The British Prime Minister] Theresa May is right, no deal is better than a bad deal,” he said, comparing the fears surrounding this prospect to the “panic” over the non-existent “millennium bug” – which predicted that the turn of the millennium would cause numerous software errors related to the formatting and storage of calendar data.
The foreign secretary also sharply criticized the way Brussels is approaching Brexit negotiations, saying that “they [Brussels] are going to play dirty.”
As an example, he brought up May’s Downing Street dinner with Juncker and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator. “We have seen already from the shameful way they treated the Number 10 dinner that Brussels is ruthless in its negotiating techniques,” Johnson said.
On Wednesday, Juncker condemned last week’s damning reports about his meeting with May as a “serious mistake.”
According to leaks obtained by the German media, the European Commission president left Downing Street “ten times more skeptical,” saying that May is “delusional” about Brexit. He also reportedly told May that Brexit “cannot be a success.”
May also dismissed the leaks as “Brexit gossip,” claiming that the two parties had had “constructive” discussions. Meanwhile, tensions between Brussels and London continued to grow, as May has accused the EU of issuing “threats” to influence the results in the UK’s upcoming general elections.
In early May, UK Brexit Secretary David Davis rejected the idea of paying a reported Brexit bill of €100 billion ($ 108.9 billion), warning that he would withdraw from the negotiations without reaching an agreement if provoked.
However, during his dinner with May, Junker reportedly repeated that negotiations cannot start until the UK agrees to foot a £60 billion ($77.6 billion) divorce bill.