Boris Johnson has been warned by the EU that not paying a £39bn Brexit bill even in the event of no-deal would damage future trade talks.
The prime minister told Sky News on Sunday that if Brexit happens without a withdrawal agreement in less than 70 days’ time then the sum will no longer be “pledged”.
He added that if a new deal is not struck, Britain will have “very substantial sums available from that £39bn” to spend as it likes.
But a spokeswoman for the EU Commission hit back on Monday, saying “especially” in a no-deal Brexit, “the UK would be expected to continue to honour all commitments made during EU membership”.
“Rather than going now into a judicial action threat, I think it is important to make clear that settling accounts is essential to starting off a new relationship on the right foot based on mutual trust,” she added.
“I would also say that as far as I understand this issue has not been raised with the EU side, for the time being, officially.”
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator, also said: “If the UK doesn’t pay what is due, the EU will not negotiate a trade deal.”
It comes after EU Council President Donald Tusk and Mr Johnson held talks together at the G7 summit in France.