The Prime Minister said today that if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, it will no longer legally owe the 39 billion pound ($47.88 billion) divorce bill agreed by his predecessor Theresa May. Mr Johnson was said to be meeting with European Council President Mr Tusk on the sidelines of the G7 Summit to set out that Britain would pay less than 10 billion pounds of the settlement if it leaves without a deal. Sky News said the figure was 9 billion pounds, while the Sunday Times reported British government lawyers said the amount Britain was legally obliged to pay could be as low as 7 billion pounds.
When asked if he had told EU leaders this week he planned to withhold the money, Mr Johnson told Sky News: “I think what the entire European Union understands is that if we come out without a deal then…the 39 billion is no longer legally pledged.
“As I’ve said many, many times we will therefore on November 1 have very substantial sums available from that 39 billion to spend on supporting our farmers…and indeed for investment in all sorts of areas.”
Other European leaders have not been impressed by his plans to not pay the bill.
In June, a source close to French President Emmanuel Macron said that failing to pay the Brexit bill would amount to a sovereign debt default.
On Wednesday, an official in his office said that leaving without a deal would not remove Britain’s obligation to pay.
The French official said on Wednesday: “There is no magic world in which the bill no longer exists.”
The EU has also repeatedly said it will not start negotiating a new trade deal with Britain before the issues of money, the Irish border and citizens rights are settled.
Mr Johnson told Mr Tusk that he would rather seek a deal with the EU, and repeated that he would still be willing to sit down and talk with the EU and member states.
His official said: “The PM repeated that we will be leaving the EU on the 31st of October whatever the circumstances, we must respect the referendum result.”
The two will meet again at the United Nations General Assembly next month.
An EU official, who did not want to be named, said the meeting had mainly restated known positions.
The official said: “We need input from their side.
“But, it was absolutely cordial all the time. It was not difficult.”
He added that it was reassuring that Mr Johnson said he wanted to reach a deal.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson was praised by the US President as the “right man for the job” of delivering Brexit and was promised a “very big trade deal” as the pair met in the margins of the G7 summit in Biarritz.
But he played down the prospects of a transatlantic deal being concluded within a year, as he believes Washington wants.
He warned that a deal with the “protectionist” US would not be “plain sailing”.
In a sign of the close relationship between the two leaders, Mr Trump said he had long held his positive views on Mr Johnson’s suitability for being Prime Minister, which “didn’t make your predecessor very happy”.
Both leaders were keen to stress their desire for a trade deal after the UK has left the European Union.
Mr said: “We’re going to do a very big trade deal, bigger than we’ve ever had with the UK and now at some point they won’t have the obstacle, they won’t have the anchor around
their ankle, because that’s what they have.”
But Mr Johnson has raised a series of areas where he wants concessions from Washington.
Mr Trump said he wanted a deal done “quickly” because in the past he had been “stymied” under Theresa May.
He added: “This is a different person and this is a person that’s going to be a great Prime Minister, in my opinion.”
But Mr Johnson told the president there would be “tough talks” ahead.
When asked if he had made clear his views on protecting the NHS and animal welfare standards in trade talks with Mr Trump, the Prime Minister told the PA news agency: “There is complete unanimity on that point.”
The Prime Minister also warned Mr Trump against escalating his trade war with China.
“We are in favour of trade peace on the whole,” he said as the two leaders and their teams had a working breakfast at the Hotel du Palais.
In a series of broadcast interviews, Mr Johnson played down the prospect of a rapid deal.
He told ITV: “There’s an opportunity to do a great free trade deal with the United States.
“The president is very gung-ho about that and so am I.”
But he added that “I don’t think people realise quite how protectionist” the US market can be.
“They want to do it within a year, I’d love to do it within a year, but that’s a very fast timetable,” he said.
The two leaders agreed to set up a working group focused on closer economic links.