UK ready to pay 40 billion euro Brexit divorce bill: Report

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Britain is open to paying up to 40 billion euros ($ 47.1 billion) towards a so-called Brexit divorce bill to the European Union as long as a future UK-EU trade deal can be secured, a media report said today. Three separate sources within the UK civil service and government with knowledge of the UK’s Brexit negotiating strategy have confirmed the figure, dismissing previous reports that British Prime Minister Theresa May would agree to a 50-billion-pound bill as “too high”.

According to the report published in ‘The Sunday Telegraph’, the UK government negotiators for Britain’s exit from the European Union have been able to ascertain that the 27-member EU’s actual opening position is around 60 billion euros – not 100 billion euros as previously suggested.

“The 27 say they can’t knock off the bits of their ‘bill’ until the very end – but politically we can’t move on money until the 27 member states start to show compromise. As a negotiation process, it just doesn’t work,” a senior civil servant based at Whitehall in London told the newspaper.

“We know their position is 60 billion euros, but actual bottom line is 50 billion euros. Ours is closer to 30 billion euros, but the landing zone is 40 billion euros, even if the public and politicians are not all there yet,” the official added.

A second Whitehall source confirmed the UK bottom line was “30 billion euros-40 billion euros” while a third political source put the figure in May’s mind at “north of 30 billion euros”. Making such a large offer is likely to prove politically divisive for Theresa May.

Brexiteers within the Conservative party will find it hard to accept paying such a sum, especially if it was not in exchange for a workable future relationship.

British Brexit negotiators concluded after second-round talks last month that the EU had created a non-negotiable stance by refusing to talk about trade until it had reached a settlement on citizens’ rights, money and Northern Ireland.

UK officials have been looking at a compromise by proposing a transition deal in which Britain would offer to continue to make net payments to the EU of some 10 billion euros a year for up to three years after Brexit.

According to the latest estimate, this continued EU budget payment for 2019-2021 could represent a partial down-payment on a final 40-billion-euros bill that negotiators hope will jump-start talks on trade and future relations. Britain voted with 52 per cent in favour of leaving the European Union in a referendum last year.

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