Brexit trade talks appear to have stalled as the UK and the EU fail to reach a compromise on their respective demands on fisheries and regulatory alignment. But it was during the withdrawal talks that the then EU‘s budget commissioner – Gunther Oettinger – made a claim that angered many Brexiteers. He warned the UK that even if it left the EU with no agreement, it would still have to pay contributions to the EU budget until the end of 2020. Mr Oettinger said: “In the 2020 draft budget, the UK is a full partner with all rights and obligations in terms of monies paid and monies received, and that is how we understand the law because the MFF (multi-annual financial framework) to the end of 2020 was agreed with the UK.
“If the British are not prepared to pay, we are sure we will get the money at a later stage, but not immediately.”
He said this in October 2019 – and the threat was greeted with defiance from Prime Minister Boris Johnson who said he would refuse to pay in the event of a no deal.
Other Brexiteer MPs were infuriated by the idea of paying into the bloc even if the UK was no longer a member.
Iain Duncan Smith told iNews Mr Oettinger’s claims were “not correct” and added: “There was no agreement.”
There was also anger in Brussels – as Guy Verhofstadt launched a scathing attack on Mr Johnson, branding him a “traitor” because of his Brexit plans.
Brexit news: Johnson and the EU have failed to reach an agreement
Brexit news: Oettinger said the UK would contribute to the EU budget after a no deal departure
He said: “The real reason why this is all happening is very simple. It’s a blame game.
“A blame game against everybody. A blame game against the union, against Ireland, against Mrs Merkel, against the British judiciary system, against Labour, against the Lib Dems, even against Mrs May.
“The only one who is not being blamed is Mr Johnson himself apparently, but all the rest are the source of our problems.
“All those who are not playing his game are traitors, or collaborators, or surrenderers. Well, in my opinion the real traitor is he or she who would risk bringing disaster upon his country, its economy, its citizens by pushing Britain out of the European Union.
Brexit news: Johnson rejected the idea
“That is, in my opinion, a traitor.”
The EU’s chief executive said “significant divergences” persisted in its talks with Boris Johnson’s negotiating team last week.
In a statement, an EU spokesperson said: “We are working hard to overcome the significant divergences that remain between us.
“We are working towards an agreement.”
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Brexit news: Verhofstadt branded Johnson a traitor
Brexit news: Frost and Barnier have made little progress
Brexit negotiations have stalled in recent months over two key issues – fisheries and regulatory alignment.
Mr Johnson wants to fulfil a Leave campaign promise that the UK will take back control of its waters post-Brexit. Previously, EU vessels had free access to British fishing grounds, leaving many fishermen in the UK aggrieved.
However, the EU’s chief negotiator – Michel Barnier – has warned Mr Johnson he cannot secure access to European markets without allowing EU vessels into UK waters.