Government 'prepared to pay £36bn Brexit divorce bill' to kick-start trade talks
Theresa May is willing to hand over £36bn in a Brexit divorce deal provided the EU kick-starts talks about a future trade relationship, a new report has said.
Whitehall is also mulling a transitional offer that would see the UK contribute around €10bn to EU coffers for up to three years after Brexit, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
The paper says the sums would act as down payments on the final £40bn figure and satisfy EU negotiators who want more money from the UK for things like farm subsidies.
But a senior government source told the Press Association “no such figure has been agreed”, while another Whitehall source told the Observer it was “speculation”.
Brussels has refused to discuss a future free trade deal until agreement has been reached on the rights of EU citizens in the UK, the post-Brexit status of Northern Ireland and the divorce bill.
Sums as high as €100bn have been mooted as the EU’s negotiating position, but the Sunday Telegraph says it is more like €60bn. However it adds that the UK will go in even lower.
“We know their position is €60bn, but actual bottom line is €50,” a Whitehall source told the paper.
“Ours is closer to €30bn, but the landing zone is €40bn, even if the public and politicians are not all there yet.”
Another source dismissed earlier reports that the Prime Minister would agree to a £50bn bill – saying the sum was “too high” – while another backed the claim about the lower figure.
The report flies in the face of the suggestion by Boris Johnson that the bloc could “go whistle” if it thought the UK would hand over a considerable sum to cover its liabilities.
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