Johnson pledge provokes European ireA source close to French President Emmanuel Macron told Reuters last night that failing to pay the £39bn bill would amount to a national default. “Not honouring your payment obligations is a failure of international commitments equivalent to a sovereign debt default, whose consequences are well known,” they said. MEP Guy Verhofstadt added: “This would not only hurt the UK’s credibility as an international partner, but it is absolutely unacceptable and contradicts what almost every lawyer in the UK thinks about it.”
Tory MPs have flocked to Johnson’s side after he topped several polls of which of the 11 candidates would make the best PM. James Cleverly last week withdrew his own leadership bid to endorse the former foreign secretary. Treasury secretary Liz Truss and transport secretary Chris Grayling have also thrown their weight behind him. Johnson made his pitch as other leadership hopefuls ramped up their rhetoric on how they would force the EU back to the negotiating table. Former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey echoed Johnson’s promise as part of her own bid for the top job, saying the £39bn was “back on the table”. Meanwhile fellow Tory forerunner Michael Gove struggled to put a lid on revelations he took cocaine hours after condemning “middle-class professionals” using it in the Times 20 years ago. He told the BBC yesterday he “deeply regrets” using the class A drug “several” times.