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Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier slams Boris Johnson over 'go whistle' jibe

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

The top Brexit negotiator in Brussels shot back at Boris Johnson today after the Foreign Secretary said the EU could “go whistle” if it wants a big financial settlement.

Michel Barnier withered: “I am not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking.”

And a top EU source said Mr Johnson had “poisoned the well” and harmed attempts by the UK to build common ground.

The final bill to cover Britain’s outstanding commitments when it leaves the bloc is set to be a major sticking point in the negotiations and the calculations must be agreed before talks on a future trade agreement can begin.

Some estimates have put the final sum in the region of £50bn while others have reached £80bn.

In the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Johnson said: “The sums I have seen that they propose to demand from this country appear to be extortionate.”

He added: “Go whistle seems to me to be an entirely appropriate expression.”

As Mr Barnier gave his scathing retort, a senior EU source told PoliticsHome: “Once again Boris has poisoned the Brexit well and undermined UK attempts to build common ground. One wonders if he wants a deal at all.”

At a press conference in Brussels Mr Barnier insisted the EU’s financial demands were “not a ransom”.

He added: “It’s not an exit bill. It’s not a punishment. It’s not a revenge. At no time has it been those things. It is simply settling accounts...

“It’s not easy and it might be expensive – but any separation involves settling accounts, no more, no less. We are not asking the UK for a single euro or a single pound more than they have legally undertaken to providing.”


Elsewhere, Mr Barnier said Theresa May's offer on migrant rights was “still not there” and argued her proposed ‘settled status' would not offer enough protection.

Under the plan EU nationals who have been living in Britain for at least five years would be able to secure their access to public services after Brexit.

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