Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”This figure of £50bn doesn’t have any legal basis whatsoever. It’s been manufactured, and it doesn’t seem likely that there will be such a bill for 50bn pounds. It’s part of Project Fear.”

Suella Braverman MP, BBC Question Time

Facts

Suella Braverman, then a backbench MP who would two months later become the chair of the European Research Group, claimed that the £50bn EU ‘divorce bill’ had no legal basis and was part of ‘Project fear’. 

As of July 2022, the outstanding liabilities of the UK to the EU reached £50.2bn. This is higher than the Treasury’s estimate of 35.6bn in 2020, and is higher than the figure Braverman suggested would never be reached.

The UK is legally required to pay its outstanding liabilities. The bill was negotiated by Theresa May and it became law following the assent of the Withdrawal Agreement in 2020. 

Verdict

Braverman, future Home Secretary,  was wrong in claiming that the Brexit ‘divorce bill’ was part of “Project Fear” and would never reach £50bn. It has already surpassed that figure, and could fluctuate to a higher amount. She was also wrong in suggesting that there was no legal basis to pay this bill – the financial settlement was enshrined in UK law in 2020. Admittedly at the time there was no legal basis to pay it, but there  is now.

We emailed Suella Braverman’s office offering her the chance to respond. The email was received, but no reply. 

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