Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, has finally admitted that the UK will be meeting its legal obligations by footing the bill for the Brexit process. Johnson had previously acted all chill about the legal requirements, saying that the European Union could “go whistle” about the price-tag of Britain leaving the EU. The Brexit process has been speculated to cost somewhere between €60 billion and €100 billion.

That’s a hefty amount to expect someone to “go whistle” about. That’s why Johnson has finally conceded that the UK will be paying for it, as is required by law.

Brexit is being referred to by the Brexiteers who support the EU leave as a “divorce” between Britain and the EU, while the cost is being called the “divorce bill.”

Johnson told House of Commons €100 billion bill is extortionate

Some of the pro-Brexiters are demanding that Britain refuse to fork over a single penny for the Brexit process (even though it was their idea and they asked for it, so they pretty much just want to have their cake and eat it too). According to leaked notes from a Conservative meeting on Downing Street months ago, having their cake and eating it too is their strategy for leaving the EU, anyway. Last month, Johnson told the House of Commons that if the EU price the Brexit process at €100 billion (approximately £92 billion), it would be an act of extortion.

Today, Johnson has changed his “go whistle” tune as, while he did say that he does not “recognise” the €100 billion cost estimate, the UK “will certainly have to meet our obligations.” Speaking on BBC Radio 4, he said that the numbers he’s been presented with thus far “seemed to be very high,” which he provides as the reason for his initial hesitation to commit to paying.

However, Johnson said for the second time that “we will meet our obligations.” He told the “Today” programme on the radio station that the British people are “law-abiding, bill-paying people,” and that this will be reflected in our payment for the Brexit process. He also proudly said that the economic contributions made to the world by the UK have been “hundreds of billions over the years.”

Johnson unsure of what Britain’s legal obligations are

Johnson is not fully sure that Britain is legally obligated to pay for the EU leave.

It’s Michel Barnier, the top Brexit negotiator for the EU, who made what Johnson calls an “interpretation” of the laws on what Britain’s obligations are when it comes to paying for something that they themselves asked for. The foreign secretary said, “I’m not saying that I accept Barnier’s interpretation.”

But there’s one thing Johnson is sure of. He said, for the third time now, that he is “certainly saying,” no doubt about it, that “we have to meet our legal obligations as we understand them,” adding that meeting legal requirements is “what you’d expect the British government to do.” Bit presumptuous of him to say, but whatever. Basically, what Johnson is saying is that we will fulfil our legal obligations, but only depending on what they are and how we see them.

This is a different tone than Johnson had last month

Johnson is showing a marked change of tone from what he was saying last month at the House of Commons, when he said that the EU would definitely be paying for Britain to leave and they could “go whistle” if they expected Britain to pay. This morning, he was asked about the comments he made last month and he said that back then, he was being faced with quotes of “very large sums of money” in the €100 billion range that “the EU commission suggested we were on the hook for.” It’s a figure he chose not to “recognise.” He refused to quote a figure that he would consider fair.