'French President Emmanuel Macron has warned ominously that Boris Johnson's threat to withhold the UK's £39bn 'divorce bill' payment from the EU could be treated like a sovereign debt default.
Nations which do not repay money they have borrowed - those which default on their sovereign debt - are punished by international markets.
A debt default leads to devaluation of the currency, an increase in the price of servicing national debt, and a lower national credit score - although it is unknown whether the international financial markets would respond in line with historical precedent in this case.
It comes after Boris Johnson vowed to deliver Brexit and keep hold of the £39billion divorce payment from the EU unless better exit terms are offered - as he insisted only he can defeat Labour and the Brexit Party.
The leadership campaign front-runner pleaded with Conservative MPs and members, saying he would be prepared to refuse to pay the promised £39 billion to the European Union - and would step up preparations to counter no-deal 'disruption'.
'I think our friends and partners need to understand that the money is going to be retained until such time as we have greater clarity about the way forward,' Johnson told the Sunday Times. 'In getting a good deal, money is a great solvent and a great lubricant.'
But a source close to French President Emmanuel Macron countered that failure to pay the Brexit bill would be equivalent to a sovereign debt default.'
Read more: Emmanuel Macron warns Boris Johnson that his plan to withhold £39 billion Brexit divorce payment would be a sovereign debt default with DIRE consequences for UK economy
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