Britain and the EU have reached agreement on a Brexit divorce bill that could see the UK having to find more than £50bn to quit the EU, two reports from Brussels have said.
The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday the cost of the settlement will be between £42bn and £52bn, and an agreement-in-principle was reached last week.
This was followed by a Guardian report, also citing sources from Brussels, suggesting the final figure could reach £57bn.
Agreement on the tab is key as it would signal that the UK and the EU are moving much closer to a deal at a December summit that would allow them to move onto discussions of post-Brexit trade.
Downing Street has previously dismissed the idea of paying up to £36bn.
The Guardian reported sources were being careful not to get over-excited about talks moving on at the meeting of EU’s leaders next month, mainly thanks to a rift between the UK and Ireland over the prospect of a ‘hard’ border between the two countries.
Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:
“If these numbers are correct, it means we’re paying a heavy price to leave an institution that has benefitted the country for decades. “The Brexiters said we’d get £350m a week for the NHS, instead we face a financially damaging divorce settlement. “The true cost of Brexit is becoming clearer by the day. “This underlines why people should have a referendum on the final deal with the option of an Exit from Brexit.”
Reuters reported the European Commission declining to comment on the report but a British government official said he did “not recognize” the newspaper’s account.
In any case, the pound rallied around 1 percent against the US dollar on the first report, though they soon flattened.
The includes the UK’s liabilities as a member state, including the seven-year budget ending in 2020, pension costs and outstanding loans.
Neither Brexiteers nor Remainers could find much cheer in the reports.
FT reporting after all the bluff and bluster we have agreed €100bn divorce bill (so that's £100bn these days) plus billions in contingency planning and years of Government unable to do anything else.. all to end up in a worse position than we are now https://t.co/gUkyhDoQyw
November 28, 2017
UK to pay £50bn Brexit divorce bill but final total cld b £75bn - no wonder no Budget boost 4 most public services https://t.co/cCYUglLffW
"There is no magic money tree" "We need 50bn for the DUP" "Yeah" "And 50bn for this brexit nonsense" "Fine" "And the NHS needs..." "THERE IS NO MAGIC MONEY TREE"
November 28, 2017
The two sides already believe they are quite close on agreeing the scope of rights for expatriate citizens in Britain and on the continent.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to meet President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and European Union Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday.
The EU says any British move needs to come by around that date if leaders meeting at the December summit are to be able to endorse a move to a new phase of talks, to include future trade relations.