You can't have our £30billion, Boris Johnson will tell the EU TODAY: PM rips up Brexit divorce bill at the G7 as lawyers say No Deal means the UK only owes £9billion
- Boris Johnson to announce he will withhold £30bn from divorce bill as punishment for EU Brexit tactics
- He will tell EU leaders at G7 summit that bill - agreed by Theresa May - will be cut to as little as £7bn
- Also fired warning at Donald Trump over American trade rules that restricted products like 'pork pies, cauliflowers and shower trays'
- Government have stoked speculation about a snap autumn election by drawing up plans to cut fuel duty
The Prime Minister – making a combative first appearance on the international stage since entering Downing Street – is expected to tell EU leaders at the G7 summit in Biarritz that the £39 billion bill agreed by Theresa May will be cut to £9 billion – or even as little as £7 billion – by the UK.
Mr Johnson also fired a warning salvo at Donald Trump ahead of a breakfast meeting with the US President today by complaining that restrictive American rules on products such as 'pork pies, cauliflowers and shower trays' were a barrier to a post-Brexit trade deal between the two countries.
The Prime Minister – making a combative first appearance on the international stage since entering Downing Street – is expected to tell EU leaders at the G7 summit in Biarritz that the £39 billion bill will be cut to £9 billion
Prime Minister Boris Johnson joins other G7 leaders for dinner in Biarritz, France
It came as No 10 also stoked speculation about a snap autumn election by drawing up plans to cut fuel duty to 'put money in motorists' pockets'. In other developments yesterday:
- Mr Johnson's advisers discussed timing a General Election to coincide with October's crunch EU summit by deliberately losing a confidence vote in September;
- Speaker John Bercow was at the centre of fresh controversy over his impartiality ahead of next month's Commons Brexit dramas after it was revealed that he had held discussions about becoming a Labour minister;
- Labour's John McDonnell urged Jeremy Corbyn to back the revocation of Article 50 to effectively cancel Brexit;
- Leaked details from Michael Gove's Brexit planning committee revealed plans to introduce UK-only passport queues at British airports;
- MI6 fast-tracked plans to boost its spying operations in Brussels and other major EU capitals.
Mr Johnson's threat over the divorce bill – which was agreed by former Chancellor Philip Hammond, an avowed enemy of the Prime Minister's Brexit policy – came after No 10's lawyers concluded that, in a No Deal scenario, the £39 billion bill should be slashed to as little as £7 billion because there would not be any of the costs associated with the transition period agreed as part of the deal.
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron insisted that the UK should pay the full Brexit bill even if the UK leaves without a deal on October 31.
The threat comes before a formal meeting today between Mr Johnson and European Council President Donald Tusk at the G7 summit: he is also expected to hold informal meetings with Mr Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
French President Emmanuel Macron (right) and his wife Brigitte Macron (second left) welcome US President Donald Trump (second right) and his wife US First Lady Melania Trump (left) ahead of a working dinner at the Biarritz lighthouse on August 24, 2019 in Biarritz, France
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron insisted that the UK should pay the full Brexit bill even if the UK leaves without a deal on October 31
Yesterday, Mr Tusk warned that he would not co-operate with the UK over No Deal, saying: 'I hope Prime Minister Johnson would not like to go down in history as Mr No Deal.'
But speaking to reporters on the flight to Biarritz, Mr Johnson said: 'I don't want a No Deal Brexit but I say to our friends in the EU: if they don't want a No Deal Brexit then we've got to get rid of the backstop from the treaty.
'If Donald Tusk doesn't want to go down as Mr No Deal Brexit then I hope that point should be borne in mind by him too.'
Striking a cautious note ahead of his meeting today with Trump, Mr Johnson said he had warned the President in a phone call on Friday evening that while a post-Brexit trade deal with the US was a 'massive opportunity' it was 'not all going to be plain sailing'.
Mr Johnson said: 'It is very important if we are going to do a fantastic free trade deal that is a free trade that works in the interests of British business.
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron welcome German Chancellor Angela Merkel
The threat comes before a formal meeting today between Mr Johnson and European Council President Donald Tusk at the G7 summit: he is also expected to hold informal meetings with Mr Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured with Mr Johnson earlier today)
'There are currently restrictions on the sale of British-made shower trays to the US. We've sold 250,000 shower trays around the world.
'There is some kind of bureaucratic obstacle that stops us selling them in the US because they are allegedly too low. Wallpaper, pillows and other fabrics have to be fire tested again when they arrive in the US rather than being automatically admitted.
'There are tariffs on cars, there are tariffs on railway carriages…Melton Mowbray pork pies, which are sold in Thailand and in Iceland, are currently unable to enter the US market…Cauliflowers currently, under US Department of Agriculture restrictions, can only enter specified ports.'
Mr Johnson added: 'We intend to seize those opportunities but they are going to require our American friends to compromise and to open up their approach because currently there are too many restrictions.'
The Prime Minister's threat to the EU over the divorce bill will be seen as the 'stick' in negotiations which are also trying to find a solution to the controversial Irish backstop in the deal.
Brussels had hoped to use the £39 billion to plug a black hole in EU finances. It is also a rebuke to Mr Hammond.
A No 10 source said: 'Boris wants to see fair terms for the UK's exit in return for the billions we are meant to pay.'
A Government source said: 'The PM has always said it was a huge mistake for Hammond to agree to the divorce bill before any Brexit deal had been finalised.'
The source added: 'If there is No Deal, Brussels will need to organise a whip round – they'll need to plug a huge hole from our contribution and they'll need billions' to keep Ireland afloat.'
Boris Johnson's secret plan to hold an election on October 17, win it - and then go back to the EU to demand new Brexit concessions before UK leaves on October 31
Under the scenario, the PM would go to the country on October 17, win and then head to Brussels to demand 11th-hour Brexit concessions.
However the plan – to stop MPs from blocking No Deal – involves first deliberately ‘losing’ a Commons no-confidence vote that the Tories engineer themselves.
It would represent an extraordinary gamble that the Labour leader can’t repeat his surprise 2017 Election performance and slash the Tory lead – or even emerge as the winner.
The ‘lose-to-win’ strategy – one of several scenarios now being plotted by advisers in No 10 – emerged as Mr Johnson prepares for a possible Labour no-confidence motion next month when MPs return from their summer break.
Secret plans to break the Brexit deadlock by holding a General Election during a critical EU summit have been drawn up by advisers to Boris Johnson. French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte welcome Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Biarritz lighthouse (pictured)
No 10 had been braced for the Labour leader to seize on anxiety over a No Deal Brexit by tabling a vote to bring down Mr Johnson’s Government less than two months from its inception.
However, the Prime Minister’s inner circle now suspect that Mr Corbyn could back out of the no-confidence threat for fear he will not win it – and instead push for a second referendum to stop Brexit.
Former Chief Whip Gavin Williamson, now Education Secretary, has told No 10 that, on current figures, the Government would triumph in such a Commons vote.
So instead, the Prime Minister’s advisers have devised a plan to encourage Mr Corbyn to table the vote and then allow Labour to achieve a shock win.
They have also calculated that, to hold the poll on October 17 to coincide with the two-day EU summit starting that day, the confidence vote would have to be held by September 12.
Under the scenario, the PM would go to the country on October 17, win and then head to Brussels to demand 11th-hour Brexit concessions
That would comply with the strict terms of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act which requires a 14-day period after a PM loses a confidence vote before an Election can be called.
Key to the plan would be the Tories being able to say the pre-Brexit Election was forced on them by Labour.
One source said: ‘It’s a risk but the beauty of this is being able to go to the country with the avowed aim of getting Brexit over the line.
We could portray Corbyn and Labour for what they are – deniers of democracy who are ready to ignore the 2016 Leave referendum result.
And with a Tory majority, a triumphant Boris would be able to arrive in Brussels early on October 18 and persuade EU leaders to give us a proper deal as they could no longer pretend the UK Parliament will rescue them.
Boris pictured with other leaders at the G7 dinner
‘Boris would tell them this is your final chance to shift. The risk is that it would hand Corbyn the perfect chance to block Brexit.’
The summit starting on October 17 is the first meeting of the EU council since Mr Johnson became Prime Minister – and also the last before the Brexit cut-off.
However, other No 10 advisers are said to prefer the alternative of an immediate post-Brexit Day Election on Friday, November 1 – despite the convention of holding General Elections on Thursdays.
That would seek to capitalise on Mr Johnson having achieved the UK’s departure from the EU by squeezing the remaining Brexit Party vote on the basis that there was no longer any point in voting for them.
However the plan – to stop MPs from blocking No Deal – involves first deliberately ‘losing’ a Commons no-confidence vote that the Tories engineer themselves
Labour MPs in Brexit-voting constituencies in the North and Midlands are also anxious that Mr Johnson will be able to appeal to their traditional voters who backed Leave.
That follows mounting anxiety that Labour is mistakenly becoming the party of Remain.
The next General Election is not due until 2022. But MPs on both sides of the House now suspect a poll this autumn is increasingly likely to resolve the Brexit stalemate.
Backers of Mr Johnson say his arrival in No 10 has given the Tories a real chance of ‘crushing’ Mr Corbyn.
However, others are worried that unless the UK does finally leave the EU, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party may destroy any hopes of Mr Johnson achieving a majority.