Boris Johnson says the UK won't pay this so-called 'Brexit divorce bill' of £39 billion without further clarity, but Macron says we will pay it – or face consequences!
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Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron have differing views on the £39 billion the EU had decided that the UK owes it for leaving.
Boris Johnson wants to use it as leverage to get a better deal and retain it in a no deal Brexit scenario, while the French President wants the EU to get its hands on the dosh as soon as possible.
Former Foreign Secretary and the front-runner to replace Theresa May in Number Ten, Boris Johnson, told the Sunday Times that, if he became PM, then the £39 billion so-called Brexit divorce bill money would be withheld, saying:
"I think our friends and partners need to understand that the money is going to be retained until such time as we have greater clarity about the way forward.
"I always thought it was extraordinary that we should agree to write that entire cheque before having a final deal. In getting a good deal, money is a great solvent and a great lubricant."
But Macron has warned that there will be 'consequences' for the UK if it does not just hand the cash over.
According to the Express, a source close to the French President said:
"Not honouring your payment obligations is a failure of international commitments equivalent to a sovereign debt default, whose consequences are well known."
So, it seems that Macron is viewing this as a potential non-repayment of a debt owed, or not sticking to a debt repayment schedule.
The trouble is we haven't borrowed money from the EU. We are a net contributor, we've just handed it over year after year – and still they want more.
What Macron is saying, is that if the UK doesn't give in and pay up, then the international markets will punish the UK with a lower national credit score with the UK facing a higher cost to service its national debt and a devaluation of the pound.
The arch EU federalist Guy Verhofstadt also chimed in saying:
"This would not only hurt the UK's credibility as an international partner but it is absolutely unacceptable and contradicts what almost every lawyer in the UK thinks about it."
Well, except the House of Lords EU financial affairs sub committee of course that said back in 2017 that we don't owe the EU anything. With the Guardian reporting at the time:
"In a report published on Saturday, the committee argues that the British government would be on strong legal ground if it chose to leave the EU without paying anything, adding that Brussels would have no realistic chance of getting any money."
And remember this payment has not been agreed to, as the mantra the whole way through has been – nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. So, no agreement, no payment – nest-ce pas?
Now to trade. The UK and South Korea, Asia's fourth largest economy, have signed a trade deal in principle to maintain trade relations post Brexit.
This deal will be ratified by the end of October and in place in November.
The BBC reports that the UK has now agreed post Brexit continuity deals with 12 countries and regions.
And now a little snippet you may not have heard yet.
In 2018 during a visit to the White House the French President gave an oak tree from Bellau Wood where 1,811 US soldiers died in 1918 to president Donald Trump.
The two then planted it in the White House gardens with Macron Tweeting:
"100 years ago, American soldiers fought in France, in Belleau to defend our freedom. This oak tree (my gift to @realDonaldTrump) will be a reminder at the White House of these ties that bind us."
But as it was a living organism, the tree had to be taken away and put into quarantine, where according to reports it has now died.
Maybe it was just reacting to the worsening relations between Trump and Macron?