Chief Brexiteer Boris Johnson baulks at $71 billion European Union exit cost

Erika Holt
June 10, 2019

Home secretary Sajid Javid won new support in the Conservative party as the campaign to replace Prime Minister Theresa May gained momentum with favourite Boris Johnson facing flak for promising to use money threat against the EU.

Speaking with the Mail On Sunday, Javid, who is one of the MPs in the running for Conservative Party leadership, has said that it's Britain's responsibility to pay for it and that it it will take "hundreds of millions of euros, no one really knows because it hasn't been done before".

As his opponents fall away, Johnson's pledge to leave the bloc with or without an agreement on October 31 will be watched closely by markets that have in the past been spooked by the possibility of a no-deal divorce.

The STG39 billion represents outstanding British liabilities to the European Union to be paid over a number of years.

The move would cost 9.6 billion pounds ($12.2 billion) annually and be partly funded by using money set aside in the current budget to deal with the consequences of Brexit, the paper reported.

Those three defeats forced Mrs May to announce her resignation.

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Mr Johnson also said border arrangements with Ireland should be settled only as part of a long-term agreement, rejecting a negotiated "backstop" that would preserve the open border with Northern Ireland, a British province.

Johnson, popular with Conservative grassroots members who will be given a choice between the final two candidates, first has to win enough support amongst elected Conservative lawmakers - where the depth of his support is less well known - to make it onto that shortlist.

Ahead of that, the leading candidates were out in force on Sunday setting out their thoughts on everything from Brexit and tax to drug-taking.

Separately, one of Johnson's rivals, environment minister Michael Gove, said he would scrap the value-added tax (VAT) levied on most goods and services and replace it with a lower USA -style sales tax. "If you say October 31 is a deadline come what may, and then Parliament blocks no deal, the only way you can deliver that promise is to have an election".

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, another contender, also warned against the dangers of a general election, but said the only way to avoid one is to exit the European Union with a deal.

During a brief initial stop in Ireland before the commemorations in France, Trump told Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar that the contentious Brexit issue of the Irish border would "work out very well".

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