The European Union expects the United Kingdom to pay a £39 billion ($48 billion) ‘divorce bill’ even in the case of a no-deal Brexit. The refusal to pay the amount could hurt the UK’s prospects of entering into a trade agreement with the remaining 27 member state of the bloc.

The UK is set to leave the EU on October 31.

The EU officials see the multi-billion dollar shakedown as a ‘debt’ Britain must pay to leave the bloc.

“If the UK refuses to pay its debts to the EU, then the EU will not accept to negotiate a trade agreement with the UK,” Jean-Claude Piris, the former head of the EU council’s legal service, said.

Ahead of the G7 summit in France that wrapped up on Monday, UK Prime Minister Johnson indicated his country might withhold the payment in case of a no-deal Brexit.

“If we come out without an agreement it is certainly true that the £39bn is no longer, strictly speaking, owed,” PM Johnson said. “There will be very substantial sums available to our country to spend on our priorities. It’s not a threat. It’s a simple statement of reality.”

The leader of the opposition Brexit Party, Nigel Farage, slammed the remarks made by the EU official, calling them “complete rubbish.”

Reuters reported the EU’s latest demands regarding the Brexit divorce bill:

The European Union expects Britain to honour all financial obligations made during its membership of the bloc even after a no-deal Brexit, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said on Monday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday if Britain leaves without a divorce deal, it will no longer legally owe the 39 billion pounds ($47.88 billion) agreed by his predecessor.

“All commitments that were taken by the 28 member states should be honoured. This is also and especially true in a no-deal scenario where the United Kingdom would be expected to continue to honour all commitments made during EU membership,” spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said.

“Rather than going now into a judicial action threat, I think that it is important to make clear that settling accounts is essential to starting of a new relationship on the right foot, based on mutual trust,” she said, adding London had not formally raised the issue with the EU so far.

The $48 billion shakedown is the EU’s way of punishing the British people for voting to leave the bloc. The British people will be treated as “deserters” if they voted for Brexit, EU Council President Jean-Claude Juncker warned the UK voters ahead of the June 2016 referendum. In March 2017, the EU Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt declared that “Britain has shot itself in the foot [by voting to leave the EU]. We intend to shoot you in the other.” In his recent book “The Great Betrayal,” BBC journalist Rod Liddle claims former UK Prime Minister May failed in Brexit negotiations because she “serially underestimated the EU’s desire and need to punish the UK.”

PM Johnson’s efforts of reaching a compromise with Brussels may meet the same fate. Germany and France, the key players within the EU, have refused to budge. A staffer for President Emmanuel Macron declared there was not “the thickness of a cigarette paper between” the French and German position on Brexit. Johnson’s recent visit to Berlin and Paris and the latest round of talks with EU Council President Donald Tusk at the G7 summit in France have done nothing to end the deadlock.

While the EU has been doing everything to stall Brexit, U.S. President Trump has remained supportive of Johnson’s pro-Brexit stance. Talking to reporters after meeting Johnson at the G7 summit this weekend, President Trump was upbeat about the prospects of a US-UK trade deal. The U.S. President promised a ‘very big trade deal’ once the UK leaves the EU. He praised the British Prime Minister as the “right man” to deliver Brexit.

[Cover image via YouTube]


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