Published On: Tue, Aug 27th, 2019

Brexit news: EU admits no legal way to force UK to handover £39bn after no deal | UK | News

Guther Oettinger, the Brussels budget commissioner, fears he won’t be able to find a court in the world that would support the European Union’s effort to secure funds from Britain after a no-deal Brexit. The German eurocrat, however, claimed Boris Johnson would not be able to win “any happy arrangements” from Brussels if he commits to a hardline stance and refuses to fork out the Brexit bill. Mr Johnson has insisted he will stick to the current withdrawal agreement, which includes the multi-billion pound payout and hated Northern Ireland backstop, if he can secure a number of concessions.

But the Prime Minister said on Sunday Britain could refuse to vast sums to Brussels in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

He said “very substantial sums” could be redirected to domestic priorities after reports surfaces that legal advice suggests that the payment could be slashed to as little as £7bn.

In a Brexit boost to Mr Johnson, the EU has conceded that the Prime Minister isn’t legally obliged to hand over the cash.

Mr Oettinger said: “Our difficulty is that we could not enforce EU demands in any court in the world.

“Johnson, on the other hand, must know that he would certainly not get any happy arrangements with us if he refused to pay, against all reason.”

The Prime Minister is yet to make the direct threat to Brussels, according to the European Commission.

A spokeswoman for the Brussels-based EU executive said: “All commitments that were taken by 28 member states should be honoured.

“This is also and especially true in a no-deal scenario where the United Kingdom would be expected to continue to honour all commitments made during EU membership.

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Jean-Claude Paris, a former head of the European Commission’s legal service, said: “If the UK refuses to pay its debts to the EU, then the EU will not accept to negotiate a trade agreement with the UK.”

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister will send his chief negotiator to Brussels to discuss Irish backstop solutions.

David Frost, Downing Street’s Brexit sherpa, will meet EU officials in an effort to find an alternative method of preventing customs checks on the Irish border and preventing no deal.

UK officials claim the discussions are simple follow-ups to the Prime Minister’s weekend meetings with Donald Tusk, the European Council’s president, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

“There have been a lot of discussions going on at that level with David Frost,” a UK source said, adding that there have been many intense talks over recent months.

Speaking at the G7 summit yesterday, Mr Johnson said: “It is the job of everyone in Parliament to get things done. It’s what our friends and partners on the other side of the Channel want. They want it over.

“If you talk to our friends as I have done over the last few weeks, they are very enthusiastic about getting on with the future.

“They regard Brexit now as an encumbrance: they want to talk about a new partnership, ways we can work together in trade and security.”

Mij Rahman, the head of Europe for the Eurasia Group, said the EU is manoeuvring to ensure it cannot be blamed for a no-deal Brexit.

He said: “The EU will engage in this process earnestly but also tactically so they can’t be blamed for no deal should the effort fail.”

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