Britain says it can not be blackmailed by European Union over exit bill

Posted September 03, 2017

UK Brexit Secretary David Davis has said that the European Union made itself look "silly" by claiming there had been no real progress in negotiations over Britain's exit from the EU.

The EU's Chief Negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier warned on Thursday that Britain's approach to Brexit was "nostalgic" and "unrealistic", his strongest criticism of London's stance at the talks so far.

"What he's (Barnier) concerned about is that he's not getting the answer on money and they've set this up to try and create pressure on us", Davis told BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

"They have set this up because they are trying to play time against money", he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, though he declined to repeat the worldwide trade secretary Liam Fox's description of the negotiations as blackmail.

Comparing the EU's demands to a hotel bill presented to a guest on checking out, Mr Davis said: "We are going through it line by line and they are finding it hard because we have got good lawyers".

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Later, Mr Davis insisted he was not branding Mr Barnier personally "silly", adding: "I said the commission would make itself look silly".

"I'm not going to allow them to use the time pressure to somehow force us to do X, Y or Z".

Mr Davis said: "We've said the era of big payments to the European Union is coming to an end - we'll still be paying something, I expect".

Davis said the story was "nonsense. completely wrong" and that the United Kingdom position was not yet settled. "It takes the laws that are there now and puts them in place the day after we leave".

Ahead of parliament's return on Monday, Davis also used his interview with Marr to urge backbenchers from both parties to back the government's repeal bill, which critics say will grant sweeping powers to ministers to change legislation without parliamentary scrutiny.

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Mr Davis told Mr Marr: "There is no enforceable bill, but we've said all along that we're a country that meets its worldwide obligations".

The European Union (withdrawal) bill is meant to transpose EU legislation into British law from the day the United Kingdom leaves the EU, and ministers say it is crucial to ensure a smooth transition process.

Mr Davis said money was "the thing that frightens them most" and insisted that the United Kingdom would not be forced into backing down in order to begin trade talks in October.

"What's going on is we're saying "Ok you've given us an enormous bill", a bit like leaving a hotel, you've got an enormous bill".

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