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.
He 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 more 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.” But he added that in financial terms, “we will obey our international obligations”.
He also dismissed a report in The Times that the European Commission would stop Prime Minister Theresa May negotiating with other EU leaders.
“There are two sides to the negotiation and the other side will not determine who does what. She will be leading our negotiation. I will be supporting her,” Davis told BBC radio.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will on Wednesday unveil recommendations for the talks, as tensions rise between the two sides.
May, who is in the middle of a general election campaign, 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.
Davis on Wednesday dismissed the various reports as a “mixture of gossip and spin” and said the British public should take them “with a pinch of salt”.
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.
May 3, 2017