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There’ll be an ‘EXPLOSION’ Barnier warns of EU meltdown if Britain doesn’t pay Brexit bill

Mr Barnier expressed concern that disagreement over a divorce bill is the most likely issue to collapse the talks and hit out at former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who described it as a “ransom” note in the EU parliament. 

He told the committee: “There is no ransom, exit bill or punishment. All there is, as in every separation, is that you look at commitments that you have entered into together and you settle the accounts. It is no more and no less than that. It really isn’t.

“We have to understand how sensitive this is, because it is the big risk of failure that I see in the short term in these negotiations. I want it to be made less dramatic and more objective, on the basis of legal principle, and I want us to discuss finding a compromise and a presentation and a way of looking at these expenses that is reasonable.” 

However, he also gave a big hint that Brussels is prepared to be flexible and haggle over the final amount, showing a surprising appetite for compromise just weeks after insisting the EU position was cast iron. 

The Frenchman said: “When it comes to paying, we manage the budget on behalf of member states, including on behalf of the UK, and we know what legal undertakings have been entered into as well as all the projects that depend on those legal undertakings.

“A figure of 12 per cent, 14 per cent – I said 15 per cent, did I? – is a rough average. If you say 12 per cent to 14 per cent and I say 15 per cent, we can discuss it, can we not?

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