European Union can whistle for payoff, says Boris Johnson

Nick Clegg_Nick Robinson

SKY NEWS•BBCNick Robinson took a swipe at Nick Clegg over not having a vote on the Brexit Repeal Bill

"I am not hearing any whistling, just a clock ticking", Mr Barnier said.

Boris Johnson, the pro-Brexit campaign hero, said, "The amounts which they (European leaders, editor's note) are suggesting should be demanded of this country appear to me to be exorbitant".

"I think to go whistle is an entirely appropriate expression".

Indeed, French president Emmanuel Macron said last month that the door was "always open" for Britain to remain in the EU.

Mr Barnier is to be congratulated on his little bon mot - the man knows how to deliver a line - but that doesn't mean his version.

Mr Barnier also said that those rights - along with the so-called "divorce payment" and border issues - must be dealt with before future UK-EU trade could be discussed.

"It's simply a settling of accounts", he said.

However Johnson is not the first British politician to query the sum being demanded of the United Kingdom by the EU.

Johnson's words were repeated three times in journalists' questions at Michel Barnier's press conference in Brussels on Wednesday as he gave a report on the state of play of Article 50 negotiations.

"We want EU citizens in Britain to have the same rights as British citizens who live in the EU", Barnier said, adding that the current British position did not guarantee these equal rights.

European Union chief negotiator said the first round of negotiations with Brexit Secretary David Davis last month had been useful, but warned: "The hard work starts now".

Barnier urged Britain to send Brussels its negotiating position on all key issues ahead of the second round of formal Brexit talks with his British counterpart David Davis, which start Monday in Brussels.

Mr Davis told the European Union select committee that all of the British newspapers are read in Brussels and they take them, if anything, too seriously. They have made the divorce bill one of several priorities that must be addressed upfront - along with citizens' rights after Brexit and the situation in Ireland - before they are willing to begin discussions on a future EU-U.

Barnier also insisted he was not trying to push Theresa May into walking out of the talks by requiring the continued jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, including over the rights of citizens.

"I believe we can get a free trade negotiation concluded and a customs union agreement concluded in the [Brexit negotiating] period; what will be much more hard however is to get all the practical implementations that go with it", he told peers, adding that this was a problem "not so much for us" but for others.

"In my opinion, since in the Lisbon Treaty Euratom and the EU are fully interlinked, you can not be fully part of Euratom and not part of the European Union", Verhofstadt told MEPs.

But before that, he will meet Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones in Brussels tomorrow.

Those comments were in response to Labour's shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry asking Johnson if he had a "detailed private plan" for Brexiting without a trade deal.

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