Britain must pay its Brexit divorce bill even if it leaves the bloc without a deal, the EU said on Monday (August 26), warning that future relations would be in jeopardy if London does not honor its commitments.
The harsh rebuff from Brussels came a day after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson again declared that in the event of a “no deal” Brexit on October 31, Britain would be released from financial obligations to the bloc.
As time is running out and fears of a no-deal grow, Johnson and EU Council President Donald Tusk clashed at the G7 in France on Saturday, with the British leader insisting that the current divorce needs to be changed.
When asked if the EU would sue Britain to recover the money, a European Commission spokeswoman instead pointed out that a future trade deal between Britain and the remaining 27 states could be threatened unless London pays.
“As we have said many times before, all commitments made by the 28 member states must be honored, and this is also and especially true in a no-deal scenario, where the UK would have to honor all commitments taken over the EU members, ”commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva told reporters.
“Rather than getting into the threat of legal action, I think it’s important to make it clear that settling scores is essential to start a new relationship on the right foot based on mutual trust.”
Jean-Claude Piris, who was Director of Legal Services for the Council of the EU for more than two decades, tweeted: “If the UK refuses to pay its debts to the EU, then the EU will not accept not to negotiate a trade deal with the UK. ”.
If the UK refuses to pay its debts to the EU, then the EU will not agree to negotiate a trade deal with the UK… https://t.co/OnuPfBfVhi
– Jean-Claude PIRIS (@piris_jc) Aug 25, 2019
Johnson has repeatedly said that if Britain left without a deal, it wouldn’t have to foot the £ 39bn (€ 43bn) divorce bill agreed to by her predecessor Theresa May.
He reiterated this claim on Sunday, telling UK broadcaster ITV that the money would be “no longer, strictly speaking, due” and that his government would end up with “very substantial sums” to spend.
Downing Street has reportedly declined to say how much the UK would be prepared to pay, although an article in the Times newspaper on Monday cited a figure of £ 7 billion.
The Brussels hardline echoes comments from a French official last week who warned London against thinking “there is no deal, so I will not pay”, saying “there is no there is no magic wand that makes this bill disappear. “
Johnson is adamant the Withdrawal Agreement reached by May – rejected by his lawmakers on three occasions – is dead in the water and changes need to be made, especially on border arrangements between Ireland and a member of the ‘EU and Northern Ireland led by the British.