LONDON: Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis warned Wednesday that it would not be bullied in upcoming negotiations with the EU, and rejected a report that its exit bill could reach 100 billion euros.
“We are going into this negotiation not as a supplicant, but as a negotiator,” Davis said, as EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier prepared to set out his plan for the talks.
Davis dismissed a report in the Financial Times suggesting Britain must settle bills of up to 100 billion euros ($109 billion) before leaving.
The figure is significantly higher than the 60-billion-euro figure previously mooted, and Davis told ITV television’s Good Morning Britain programme: “We will not be paying 100 billion.”
In another interview with BBC radio, he stressed that “we will obey our international obligations” — but warned Britain would not pay anything if the negotiations collapsed.
“In the walk-away circumstance there is nothing to be paid,” Davis said.
Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that she would rather Britain exit the EU without any agreement on future ties than accept a “bad deal”.
A House of Lords report earlier this year suggested this could apply if Britain were forced to pay a significant sum with no trade deal in return.
“This morning you see demands for 100 billion in the papers — it’s gone from 50 to 60 to 100 — it rather actually proves her point,” Davis said.
“I don’t think that’s where we’ll end up — in fact I know that’s not where we’re going to end up.
“The simple truth is that this is going to be a tough negotiation.”
The leaders of the other 27 EU nations on Saturday unanimously agreed a tough set of guidelines for the talks with Britain, covering issues of money, trade and the rights of EU citizens.
“They talk about negotiating guidelines, they’re sort of demands that have been lined up… this has to be by agreement,” Davis said.
He added: “We are full members of the European Union until we leave… and we’re going to use our rights under the rules.”
The formal Brexit talks are not due to begin until after Britain’s snap elections on June 8, but tensions are rising on both sides.
May was put on the defensive this week by leaks about a disastrous dinner with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
In response, she boasted Tuesday that she would be a “bloody difficult woman” in the talks — a description that had been used about her by a former colleague.