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Boris claims Brussels could pay Brexit divorce bill

The Foreign Secretary says Brussels could end up paying the UK a Brexit divorce bill. Credit: PA

Brussels could be forced to pay Britain a Brexit divorce bill because the UK's share of EU assets is so valuable, Boris Johnson claims.

The Foreign Secretary also accused the EU of trying to "bleed this country white" with an expected bill of £84 billion to settle liabilities on withdrawal.

Asked whether Mr Johnson agreed with former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith that Britain might end up receiving a payment, Mr Johnson told the Daily Telegraph: "I do, I think there are very good arguments.

"There are assets, I don't want to get too much into the detail of the negotiation but there are assets that we share, that we have paid for over the years and there will need to be a proper computation of the value of those assets.

"I certainly think the bill that's been presented at the moment is absurd."

Mr Johnson said the "shameful" leaking of details of a Downing Street meeting between Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker showed "Brussels is ruthless in its negotiating techniques, they are going to play dirty, we have got to be very wary and intellectually very firm".

Accusing the EU of "trying it on", he said: "They are going to try to bleed this country white with their bill.

Mr Johnson compared the fears surrounding a "no deal" Brexit to the unfounded panic to the non-existent millennium bug.

He said: "Theresa May is right, no deal is better than a bad deal and some of the anxiety that I've read about the consequences of failing to get the deal remind me of the panic that led up to the turn of the millennium, the so-called millennium bug."

Quoting the famous Eagles hit, he said: "Jean-Claude Juncker thinks it's the Hotel California where you can check out but you can never leave. He is wrong."

During the interview with the paper he also warned that there is a "realistic possibility" of Russia interfering in the General Election.

Mr Johnson claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin would "rejoice" if Labour's Jeremy Corbyn won control of 10 Downing Street.

And he said that it was clear that Mr Putin was behind cyber-security breaches during the presidential elections in the USA and France, where eventual victor Emmanuel Macron's emails were hacked on the eve of polling.

The Foreign Secretary was speaking during a visit to Newport, south Wales, on the day of a massive cyber-attack on the NHS.

Asked if he feared Russia may seek to influence the June 8 election, Mr Johnson said: "I think it is a realistic possibility. Clearly we think that is what he did in America, it's blatantly obvious that's what he did in France. In the western Balkans he is up to all sorts of sordid enterprises, so we have to be vigilant."

Mr Johnson suggested Mr Putin's motive was "to undermine faith in democracy altogether and to discredit the whole democratic process".

And when asked whether Russia might attempt to improve Mr Corbyn's prospects of power, he replied: "Putin would certainly rejoice to see British defences weakened, Britain's foreign policy become less active, to see us detached from the United States, that would be absolute grist to Putin's mill, that would be just what he wants."

Russia has repeatedly denied it had any involvement in interfering with the elections in the US or France.