Brexit: Johnson to tell Tusk UK will pay €9bn of €43bn deal – reports
British PM responds to European Council president’s ‘Mr No-Deal’ jab
British prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to tell European Council president Donald Tusk that the UK will only pay £9 billion (€9.8 billion) instead of the £39 billion (€43bn) liability agreed by former prime minister Theresa May under a no-deal Brexit, Sky News reported early on Sunday.
French president Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday said a no-deal Brexit would be of Britain’s own making and not the EU’s.
An official in Macron’s office said that a no-deal Brexit would not remove Britain’s obligation to pay its exit bill to the EU.
“There is no magic world in which the bill no longer exists,” the official said on Wednesday.
Failure to pay the £39 billion Brexit bill would amount to a sovereign debt default, a source close to Macron told Reuters in June.
On Saturday, Mr Tusk warned Mr Johnson that he will not “co-operate on no-deal” ahead of a meeting between the two at the G7 summit.
Mr Tusk also said he hoped the prime minister would not go down in history as “Mr No-Deal”.
However, speaking on the plane to the summit in Biarritz, Mr Johnson shot back by suggesting that failure to reach a Brexit agreement between the UK and the EU would also reflect badly on Mr Tusk.
Mr Johnson told reporters: “I have made it absolutely clear I don’t want a no-deal Brexit.
“But I say to our friends in the EU if they don’t want a no-deal Brexit then we have got to get rid of the backstop from the [existing withdrawal] treaty.
“If Donald Tusk doesn’t want to go down as ‘Mr No-Deal Brexit’ then I hope that point will be borne in mind by him too.”
The backstop is a mechanism in the withdrawal agreement that would guarantee that the Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic remains open after Brexit.
Mr Johnson said he expected talks on his alternative to the backstop “in the coming weeks”, with discussions “in great detail” ahead of the UK’s October 31st exit day.
He also said he would tell US president Donald Trump at this weekend’s G7 summit to pull back from a trade war with China that is already destabilising economic growth across the world.
Mr Johnson is expected to set out his plans for Brexit in talks with Mr Tusk, building on visits in recent days to the leaders of Germany and France.
Speaking at the summit in France on Saturday before Mr Johnson’s arrival, the former Polish prime minister said: “He [Johnson] will be the third British Conservative prime minister with whom I will discuss Brexit.
“The EU was always open to co-operation when David Cameron wanted to avoid Brexit, when Theresa May wanted to avoid a no-deal Brexit, and we will also be ready now to hold serious talks with prime minister Johnson.
“One thing I will not co-operate on is no-deal. I still hope that prime minister Johnson will not like to go down in history as ‘Mr No-Deal’.
“We are willing to listen to ideas that are operational, realistic and acceptable to all member states including Ireland, if and when the UK government is ready to put them on the table.”
Before setting off for the coastal resort of Biarritz, Mr Johnson warned Brexit critics they are “gravely mistaken” about the UK losing its place on the world stage, as he prepared for his first international summit and trade talks with Mr Trump.
The prime minister will meet Mr Trump in the margins for their first face-to-face discussion since he entered Downing Street.
Ahead of the summit, which begins on Saturday and continues until Monday, Mr Johnson said: “Some people question the democratic decision this country has made, fearing that we will retreat from the world. Some think Britain’s best days are behind us.
“To those people I say: ‘You are gravely mistaken.’”
His comments will be seen as a rebuke to Emmanuel Macron, after the French president suggested that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US could see Britain as a “junior partner” in a position of “historic vassalisation”.
Mr Johnson will meet the US president – who has repeatedly praised his leadership qualities – on Sunday morning.
The pair spoke on the phone on Friday evening ahead of their meeting, their fourth official phone call since Mr Johnson took office a month ago and the second call this week.
In his first face-to-face meeting with Mr Tusk, the prime minister will spell out his absolute commitment to getting the UK out of the European Union on October 31st.
It follows talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday and Mr Macron on Thursday, after which the prime minister said the “mood music” was positive, but getting the changes he wants to the withdrawal agreement would not be easy and he was “telling people not to hold their breath” for a breakthrough. – PA/Reuters