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UK won’t have to pay £39 billion divorce bill in no-deal Brexit – Johnson

UK won’t have to pay £39 billion divorce bill in no-deal Brexit – Johnson
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that Britain will not have to pay the £39 billion ($47.7 billion) divorce bill demanded by Brussels if it leaves the European Union without an exit deal.

Johnson made the comments after meeting European Council President Donald Tusk on the sidelines of the G7 summit in France. Ahead of the meeting, British media were reporting that Johnson would use the face-to-face to tell Tusk that the UK would only pay a fraction of the sum agreed by his predecessor Theresa May, with different news outlets citing figures of £9 billion ($11.05 billion) and £7 billion ($8.6 billion).

After the showdown, Johnson side-stepped confirming that he had discussed the matter with Tusk but stated that the EU understands his position.

“I think what the entire European Union understands is that if we come out without a deal then… the £39 billion is no longer legally pledged,” he told Sky News.

“As I’ve said many, many times we will therefore on November 1 have very substantial sums available from that £39 billion to spend on supporting our farmers… and indeed for investment in all sorts of areas.”

This view is in direct opposition to comments made by a French official earlier this week. “There is no magic world in which the bill no longer exists,” the official said on Wednesday.

The union has also stated that it will not even begin negotiating a new trade deal with the UK until the money is paid and issues around the Irish border and citizens rights are settled.

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Johnson has made optimistic sounds about the prospects of a new Brexit deal being agreed following Sunday’s meeting with Tusk and meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this week. 

However, the European leaders have maintained that the controversial backstop border provision will remain in the withdrawal agreement unless the UK finds a solution that renders it unnecessary.

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