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'Boris Johnson is wrong' says Sir Henry Bellingham, 'we must pay Brexit bill'

PUBLISHED: 14:21 14 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:28 14 July 2017

Sir Henry Bellingham. Picture: Ian Burt

Sir Henry Bellingham. Picture: Ian Burt

A Norfolk MP has declared Boris Johnson is wrong and Britain must pay its Brexit divorce bill.

North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham - who voted Leave in the referendum – spoke after foreign secretary Boris Johnson said in the House of Commons this week Brussels could “go whistle” if they demanded a “Brexit divorce bill”.

But Sir Henry, who calls himself a “pragmatic leaver”, believes it is inevitable Britain will have to stump up some money.

“The negotiations will be hard,” he said. “But I disagree with Boris – we will have to pay a divorce bill, and we should it’s only fair. We made commitments as a member of the EU prior to us triggering Article 50 and it is right we honour our part of the bill.

“Some of the huge figures are obviously just high starting points. But we should look to make a sensible payment as early as possible to enable the talks on trade which we will get to in the autumn to start in the best possible way.”

Many Eurosceptics are calling on the government to refuse to pay the EU anything and would be happy to see a completely clean break from Brussels. But Sir Henry disagrees: “I was a pragmatic leaver. I only decided which way I would vote after David Cameron came back from negotiations with a bad deal.

“Immigration is a big issue in North West Norfolk as it is across the nation. I think if that had been addressed in those negotiations the country may well have voted differently.

“But I am positive now and I believe there are some great opportunities ahead for my constituency and the whole of Norfolk. The changes to the rules for fishing fleets is going to make a big difference. That is a real boost for the industry.

“There are some issues that are concerning businesses of course. There will need to be sector specific immigration because we certainly do not want to damage business. Some arrangement along those lines will allow seasonal workers, for example, to continue to help on our farms.”

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