LONDON — The UK has admitted for the first time that it will need to pay a bill to the European Union to settle its financial obligations when it leaves.
Bloomberg and the Financial Times reported that Brexit Minister Joyce Anelay said the government would “work with the EU to determine a fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state.”
Anelay said on Thursday in a written statement to Parliament that “the government recognises that the UK has obligations to the EU, and the EU obligations to the UK, that will survive the UK’s withdrawal — and that these need to be resolved.”
Anelay’s tone differed from Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who told the House of Commons on Tuesday that the EU was demanding “extortionate” sums from Britain.
“The sums they [the EU] propose seem to be extortionate and I think ‘go whistle’ is an entirely appropriate expression,” he said.
The EU is reportedly expected to demand up to €60 billion from the UK as part of Brexit negotiations.
Asked about Johnson’s comments, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned that time was running out for the UK to get a Brexit deal.
“I am not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking,” said Barnier.
Barnier said the UK must meet its financial obligations or risk breaching trust for its future relationship with the EU.
“How can you build a future relationship with a country where you don’t have trust?” he said. “I cannot imagine this great country – which the UK is – not also being a responsible country, and respecting its commitments.”
“It is not a ransom, it is not an exit bill, it is not revenge. It is just settling accounts.”