Boris Johnson has thrown the government’s planning for Brexit into fresh doubt as he admitted the chances of Britain walking away from talks with the EU without a deal were “vanishingly thin”.
“There is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal”, said Johnson.
Johnson’s comments, made in response to shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry pressing for details on what “no deal” would mean for the British public and British business, seem to contradict those made by Brexit Secretary David Davis earlier this year.
Davis, a prospective rival to Johnson in any future Conservative leadership election, said in March that the Government was planning for “all the possible outcomes of the negotiations.”
Theresa May has been maintained that leaving the EU without a deal remains a possibility in an apparent attempt to use the threat as leverage in negotiations.
Johnson also told Parliament on Tuesday that the sums of money the EU is proposing to demand from Britain as part of its Brexit bill “seem to be extortionate”.
Asked whether Brussels should be told to “go whistle” if it wants more money from the UK, the Foreign Secretary said: “I think that the sums that I have seen … seem to me to be extortionate and I think go whistle is an entirely appropriate expression.” The phrase means asking for something with little chance of getting it.
A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn told Sky that Johnson was using “silly, arrogant language that he so often employs” and that it was no way to negotiate.
In May, Brexit Secretary Davis also balked at the rumoured €100bn demands, though he struck an altogether more conciliatory tone than his colleague.
“We have said we will meet our international obligations”, said Davis, who claimed the UK would negotiate and ensure the EU only receives what it is legally owed.