Boris Johnson: UK will pay Brexit bill 'as we see it'

Britain will pay "not a penny more, not a penny less" than what the Government thinks it owes Brussels, Boris Johnson has said.

The Foreign Secretary stressed the Government would abide by its financial obligations "as we understand them".

The so-called 'Brexit bill' is one of the most contentious issues in divorce talks between London and Brussels. No side has given a figure, though sums that have been floated on the European side are around €60bn (£55bn).

Mr Johnson said last month that the EU could "go whistle" over the issue - though he insisted on Friday that he was responding to being asked whether Britain would pay "€100bn or pounds", not over a general commitment to pay.

"Of course we will meet our obligations, we are law-abiding, bill-paying people," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"The UK has contributed hundreds of billions over the years."

The Brexit bill is one of three key areas of the current phase of negotiations, which are focusing on the terms of the divorce.

The EU says progress must be made on these issues - also including the Irish border and the rights of EU citizens in the UK - before the two sides can move on to discussing trade deals.

Some Brexit hardliners say the EU is seeking revenge for Britain quitting the bloc and wants a hefty bill to dissuade any other nation from doing the same.

Mr Johnson himself said last month that some of the sums being circulated were "extortionate".

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier insisted the bloc was not seeking a "punishment" or "revenge" and simply wanted to settle the outstanding financial accounts.

Mr Johnson refused to give a figure, saying that was a matter for the negotiators.

But he added: "I'm not saying I accept Mr Barnier's interpretation of what our obligations are. But I'm certainly saying that we have to meet our legal obligations as we understand them.

"We should pay not a penny more, not a penny less of what we think our legal obligations amount to."

During the interview Mr Johnson, who is just back from a visit to Libya, dodged questions on whether he would support a transition deal after Britain's EU membership ends in March 2019.

Negotiators are gearing up for the third round of formal talks starting in Brussels next week.

The Government has published a number of position papers looking at some of the crucial issues, including the Irish border, a possible customs union in a transitional period and the role of the European Court of Justice.