EU warning: Verhofsadt demands £39BN divorce bill or 'no trade deal'

The Belgian MEP threatened to thwart any chance of the EU leaders being brought back to the table just hours after Mr Johnson said “strictly speaking” the UK doesn’t owe Brussels money. The prime minister said EU officials “understand” the UK is not willing to hand over £39 billion if it crashes out of the soon-to-be 27 member bloc on October 31. But Mr Verhofstadt, who is Brexit coordinator for the European parliament, hit back, saying: “If the UK doesn’t pay what is due, the EU will not negotiate a trade deal.

“After ‘no deal’, this will be a first condition of any talks.”

And in a dig at Brexiteer Mr Johnson, the former Belgian prime minister added: “Britain is better than this.”

Last week the Conservative leader travelled to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and to Paris for a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.


Brexit was the hot topic at both meetings and hope of the deadlock being broken rose when Mrs Merkel gave the Johnson administration 30 days to come up with an alternative to the backstop.

And Mr Macron also indicated he would be open to discussing a revised Brexit deal, but said any new agreement would have to be very similar to the existing withdrawal agreement.

Mr Johnson had his first face-to-face meeting with European Council president Donald Tusk at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, on Sunday.

READ MORE: G7 LIVE: Trump warns hard Brexit is likely

In an interview with Sky News Mr Johnson was pressed over whether he had issued the threat to Mrs Merkel and Mr Macron during their talks.

He said: “I think they understand that if there isn’t a deal the the £39 billion is no longer legally pledged.”

Mr Verhofstadt’s anti-Brexit tirade was met with mixed reaction from social media users, some who claimed

One person tweeting under the name DC said: “The money was for a deal. If there is no deal then no money will be paid.”

But Malachy Guilfoyle said: “If you break your phone contract early you’re liable to pay the remainder of your contract or some other agreed fee.”

Mr Johnson and Mr Tusk will have their next meeting at the UN general assembly in September.

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