Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has hit back at Boris Johnson’s suggestion the UK will not pay any money as it leaves the union.
The foreign secretary yesterday accused the Brussels of wanting Britain to pay an “extortionate” sum and agreed that the EU could “go whistle”.
But speaking during a press conference this morning, Barnier responded: “I am not hearing any whistling, just a clock ticking.”
It has been reported the EU could ask the UK for €60bn, or as much as €100bn, during the negotiations.
Barnier said while Brexit “might be expensive” for the UK, the money was ”simply settling accounts”.
“It’s not a ransom. It’s not an exit bill. It’s not a punishment. It’s not a revenge,” he said.
The other EU member states argue the UK should honour the financial commitments it made while a member.
Barnier said it was a “question of trust” for the EU-27. “What happens if the share which the UK has committed to providing is no longer there?
“I can’t imagine that a great country, a very great country that the UK is, not also be a responsible country which respect it’s commitments.”
Johnson also yesterday said the government had “no plan” for what to do if a Brexit deal with the EU was not agreed.
He was quickly reprimanded by Downing Street over both his comments.
The prime minister’s spokeswoman said the government was “planning for all eventualities” and that the UK would “meet our legal obligations whatever they may be”.