LONDON (Reuters) - The sums of money the European Union is to demand from Britain as part of its Brexit settlement “seem to be extortionate”, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Tuesday.
The EU wants an agreement on how the “Brexit bill” will be calculated before launching talks on a free trade agreement. It puts Britain’s financial settlement at tens of billions of euros and includes covering a share of future EU budget commitments made while it was a member.
Asked by a lawmaker in parliament if the EU should be told to “go whistle” if it wants money from Britain to leave the bloc, Johnson said: “I think that the sums that I have seen ... seem to me to be extortionate and I think go whistle is an entirely appropriate expression.” The phrase means to ask for something with little chance of obtaining it.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she could walk away from the EU without a Brexit agreement if she believed the deal on offer was worse than not reaching any arrangement.
Johnson said this was unlikely as it was in the interests of both sides to reach an understanding, but asked to spell out what “no deal” would mean, he said: “There is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal.”
May’s spokesman said contingency planning was taking place for “a range of scenarios”.
Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Alistair Smout, editing by Elizabeth Piper and Janet Lawrence