Boris Johnson threatens to withhold £30bn of EU 'divorce bill' under a no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
25th August 2019

Boris Johnson is planning to tell the EU he will withhold £30 billion of the so-called “divorce bill” if there is a no-deal Brexit.

Boris Johnson will tell EU boss Donald Tusk about the 'divorce bill' at the G7 summit
Credit: 
PA Images

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The Prime Minister will throw down the gauntlet to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, in a showdown meeting at the G7 summit in Biarritz on Sunday.

According to The Sunday Times he will say the £39bn  agreed under Theresa May to hand over to Brussels should be cut to just £9bn, or even as little as £7bn.

Mr Johnson’s tough stance is part of a push to get the EU to agree to his call to drop the Northern Irish backstop and re-open negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement.

The newspaper said he ordered Number 10’s lawyers to calculate how much the UK is legally obliged to pay once Britain exits the EU without a deal in place.

A senior government source said: “The PM has always said it was a huge mistake to agree to the divorce bill before any Brexit deal had been finalised.

"If there is no deal, Brussels will need to organise a whip round — they’ll need to plug a huge hole from our contribution and they’ll need billions to keep Ireland afloat.”

Last week the French President Emmanuel Macron had insisted to Mr Johnson that he must pay the full amount agreed by his predecessor regardless of how the UK exits the bloc.

But a Downing Street source told the Mail on Sunday: “Boris wants to see fair terms for the UK's exit in return for the billions we are meant to pay.”

The £39bn figure was signed off by then-Chancellor Philip Hammond, something Brexiteers were unhappy about at the time.

A Government source told the same newspaper: “The PM has always said it was a huge mistake for Hammond to agree to the divorce bill before any Brexit deal had been finalised.”

Mr Johnson’s talks with Mr Tusk at the summit in the south of France are expected to be combative after the EU boss warned the PM he should do everything he can to not go down in history as “Mr No deal”.

The UK leader hit back, saying: “If Donald Tusk doesn’t want to go down as ‘Mr No Deal Brexit’ then I hope that point should be born in mind by him too.”