Downing Street has slapped down Boris Johnson after he said the government had made “no plans” for what to do if the UK failed to secure a Brexit deal with the EU.
No.10 also distanced itself from the foreign secretary’s claim that Britain would not pay any money to Brussels as the price of leaving the union.
Speaking to MPs today, Johnson said “there is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal.”
But a spokeswoman for Theresa May said this afternoon: “As a responsible government we are planning for all eventualities and that work is going on across government. Our plan is to get a good deal. We have said many times it’s right to plan for all eventualities and that work is happening as you’d expect.”
Johnson used an appearance in the Commons to agree with a Tory backbencher that the UK would not pay a “penny piece more” to the EU than it already had done.
And he branded the sum of money that the EU wanted the UK to pay was “extortionate”.
But the prime minister’s spokeswoman did not rule out the UK paying a so-called Brexit bill.
“Our view is that the days of us paying large sums of money will be a thing of the past. We have long said that our country will meet our legal obligations whatever they may be. But also when we leave decisions on how we spend our money will be made here,” she said.
It has been reported that Brussels could ask for €60bn, or as much as €100bn, from Britain. The price tag is based on financial obligations the other member states believe the UK would need to settle before it left.
Johnson’s claim that no work had been done to plan for no deal being reached was also a flat contradiction to what David Davis has said.
In March, the Brexit secretary sought to reassure voters that the government was prepared.
“We have been planing for the contingencies, all the various outcomes, all the possible outcomes of the negotiation,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
Asked if this included a “proper plan for no deal”, Davis added: “Oh yes, oh yes.”
Davis told the House of Lords EU committee this afternoon he could not speak for Johnson. “You’ll have to get the foreign secretary here to explain his views,” he said.
And asked about the cost of leaving, Davis said the goal was “not to pay more than we need to”.
James Chapman, a former senior adviser Davis and George Osborne, said it was “factually incorrect” to say no planning had been done.
Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign, has today written to the prime minister demanding she explain whether her Brexit secretary or foreign secretary was correct.