Published: Thu, July 13, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Michel Barnier : EU's hits back at Britain on Brexit bill

Michel Barnier : EU's hits back at Britain on Brexit bill

Briefing journalists after reporting to the European Commission on the talks so far, Mr Barnier refused to be drawn directly on United Kingdom foreign secretary Boris Johnson's jibe on Tuesday that the EU could "go whistle" for the alleged €100 billion exit payment being demanded of the United Kingdom, beyond saying he could hear "no whistling, just a clock ticking".

"The sums that I have seen that they propose to demand from this country seem to me to be extortionate", Johnson said.

"How do you build a relationship which is going to last, with a country where you don't have trust?".

The top Eurocrat insisted that talks on a free-trade deal can not proceed until Britain agrees to submit to the EU's demands on payment and citizens' rights.

"The three priorities for the first phase are indivisible", said Barnier, referring to the financial settlement, citizens' rights and other separation issues such as the Northern Irish border.

With the second round of talks opening on Monday in Brussels, Mr Barnier said the United Kingdom must give greater detail about its plans for citizens rights, the Irish border and post Brexit trade.

Mr Barnier said the first round of negotiations with Brexit secretary David Davis last month had been useful, but warned: "The hard work starts now".

Tomorrow the Government will publish an economic analysis of Brexit's impact, which will explain the implications of various different types of deal.

The EU has piled further pressure on Britain to settle its "divorce bill" and the fate of EU citizens after Brexit - demanding answers within five days.

The foreign secretary was responding to a question from backbench MP Philip Hollobone, who urged him to tell the European Union they could "go whistle" if they wanted "a penny piece more" than the money the United Kingdom had already paid to the European Union since 1973.

Barnier repeatedly said that the "clock is ticking" before his deadline of October 2018 to reach the outline of a deal, before Britain formally leaves the European Union in March 2019.

Britain can not stay a member of the EU nuclear regulator Euratom after Brexit, whether it wants to or not, European Parliament Brexit pointman Guy Verhofstadt said Wednesday. "We will not ask for a single euro, a single pound more than [the U.K.] legally committed".

We need to know on which points we agree and which points we disagree so that we can negotiate in earnest.

"I think this country needs a government that is prepared to take the bold action necessary to secure a better future for Britain and we are determined to be that government".

"I don't want to push anybody over the edge, but we have to find clear, sustainable solutions".

The former Belgian PM said the United Kingdom could not simply seek to make sufficient progress on one issue - citizens' rights - and hope that would be enough to trigger the second round of the talks on trade. "What that means is that progress on one or two of those subjects would not be sufficient in order for us to be able to move on to discussions of our future relationship with the United Kingdom".

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry pressed him again on what "no deal" would mean for the British people and businesses, asking if he had a "detailed private plan" to manage the risk.

Mr Johnson also appeared to mock Jeremy Corbyn over the Labour party's support for leaving the European single market.

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