New Boris Govt Confirms UK Won’t Pay £39bn to Brussels in No-Deal Brexit

Britain's Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak arrives at 10 Downing street for a cabinet meeting in London on July 25, 2019 - Britain's newly installed Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his first cabinet meeting today faced with the burning challenge of resolving the three-year Brexit crisis in three …
ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images

Boris Johnson’s government has confirmed that the United Kingdom will not pay the £39 billion ‘divorce bill’ to Brussels if the country leaves the European Union without a deal.

Newly-appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak told Sky News on Thursday that Prime Minister Johnson’s government will be preparing financially for a clean break from the EU, noting that as a result of a no-deal, the UK would have the additional “fiscal headroom” of billions not paid to Brussels.

“If we do end up leaving without a deal, there’s £39 billion that is a payment as part of that deal that we were going to hand over to the Europeans that we will obviously not just hand over,” Mr Sunak said.

“As they’ve said famously: ‘Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.’ They can’t just cherry-pick the money they need and ignore the rest of the deal that we want. So that also gives us quite a lot of extra firepower that we can deploy,” he added.

Before announced as prime minister, Mr Johnson had said that he would create a Ministry of No Deal, overhauling the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) and realign its focus to preparing for a clean break.

Brexiteer Stephen Barclay retained his position as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union in Prime Minister Johnson’s radical overhaul of the Cabinet last night, with Vote Leave alumnus Michael Gove being appointed the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, taking over from Theresa May loyalist David Lidington.

A senior Cabinet office role and otherwise effectively a minister without portfolio, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will be charged with coordinating planning for no-deal, Mr Johnson confirmed on Thursday during prime minister’s statement in the Commons before the House rises for summer recess. Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid will be making funds available for that planning.

Former Prime Minister May came under criticism for ordering the winding down of no-deal preparations in April after forcing a Brexit delay to October 31st, with Brexiteer Owen Patterson saying the move proved that the former prime minister’s Remainer-dominated government  “was never going to countenance no deal”.

The previous government was also criticised for taking no-deal off the table, with Brexiteers warning that not only was it was unwise to fail to prepare for the likely eventuality, but that to remove the option would weaken the UK’s negotiating hand in Brussels.

Mr Sunak said that it was important signal to Brussels that the UK was serious about leaving without a deal and that preparations must be done “with conviction”, saying: “We need to show resolute to the Europeans that we are will to walk away if necessary. I think you will see that, not just with the prime minister but from the new chancellor and Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove who is going to have a key role in preparing the government and country for no deal.”

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