Boris Johnson says EU leaders can 'go whistle' for Brexit divorce payment

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Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has suggested European leaders can "go whistle" if they expect Britain to pay a divorce bill for withdrawing from the European Union.

Facing questions over the UK's future after Brexit, Mr Johnson also told MPs that the Government had "no plan for no deal" because of its confidence over securing a strong Brexit settlement with the bloc.

His comments come after Number 10 sources played down suggestions that Theresa May plans to walk out of Brexit talks in September to show defiance over EU demands for a divorce bill worth tens of billions of pounds.

Tory Eurosceptic Philip Hollobone (Kettering) pressed Mr Johnson on the issue during Foreign Office questions, saying: "Since we joined the Common Market on January 1 1973 until the day we leave, we will have given the EU and its predecessors, in today's money, in real terms, a total of £209 billion.

"Will you make it clear to the EU that if they want a penny piece more then they can go whistle?

Mr Johnson replied: "I'm sure that your words will have broken like a thunderclap over Brussels and they will pay attention to what you have said.

"He makes a very valid point and I think that the sums that I have seen that they propose to demand from this country seem to me to be extortionate and I think 'to go whistle' is an entirely appropriate expression."

Mr Johnson said the public wanted the Government to "get on and deliver a great Brexit" and dismissed suggestions from Labour former shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn that there was division within its ranks over whether the UK could leave the EU without a deal.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry pressed him again on what "no deal" would mean for the British people and businesses, asking if he had a "detailed private plan" to manage the risk.

She said: "It is slightly baffling, as it is the Prime Minister, or at least the Prime Minister for now, who decided to put the no deal option on the table and she couldn't stop using the phrase during the election campaign.

"Now when we ask what it means in practice, they refuse to tell us."

Mr Johnson said the chances of walking away without a deal were "vanishingly thin" as it was in the interest of EU nations to secure a good deal.

He replied: "There is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal and just for the sake of example and illustration, I would remind you that there was a time... when Britain was not in the Common Market."

The comments came as Brexit Secretary David Davis told the Cabinet he would introduce the Repeal Bill, which will incorporate Brussels regulations into UK law, to the Commons on Thursday.