Former Treasury chief tells Liam Fox to 'get a grip' after 'blackmail' comments
The former top civil servant at the Treasury has told Liam Fox to “get a grip” after he complained that the EU was trying to “blackmail” Britain.
It came after Dr Fox complained that the European Commission was refusing to begin talks on a future trading relationship in order to force the UK to pay the so-called ‘divorce bill’ for leaving the bloc.
Speaking in Japan, where he has been accompanying Theresa May on a three-day visit, the International Trade Secretary said:
“We can't be blackmailed into paying a price on the first part.
“We think we should begin discussions on the final settlement because that's good for business, and it's good for the prosperity both of the British people and of the rest of the people of the European Union.”
The British negotiating team, led by Brexit Secretary David Davis, has declined to say how much the Government is willing to pay as part of the withdrawal process, although a figure of around £30bn has been suggested.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has suggested £55bn, while some reports put the figure as high as £92bn.
Nick Macpherson, who served as permanent secretary at the Treasury from 2005 until last year, tweeted that Dr Fox’s remarks were “the perpetual cry of the smaller negotiator with the weaker hand”.
Since leaving the civil service the crossbench peer has been an outspoken critic of the Government's position on Brexit, suggesting in a tweet last month that the UK was “staring into the abyss” and could benefit from “personnel change” in government.