Britain is willing to pay up to 40 billion euros ($47.1 billion) to the European Union to settle the Brexit divorce bill, a media report said. According to a report in the Telegraph, the UK will only agree to pay the sum if the EU considers it as part of the deal for future trading arrangements. The offer marks the first time Britain has put a figure on its Brexit bill and is the only way to break the current deadlock in negotiations, senior Whitehall officials said.
Three sources in Whitehall and the government with knowledge of the UK’s negotiating strategy confirmed the figure to the Telegraph, dismissing previous reports that Prime Minister Theresa May would agree to a 50 billion-euro bill as “too high”. “We know (the EU’s) position is 60 billion euros, but the actual bottom line is 50 billion euros. Ours is closer to 30 billion euros but the actual landing zone is 40 billion euros, even if the public and politicians are not all there yet,” the daily quoted one senior Whitehall source as saying.
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Another Whitehall source told the daily that Britain’s offer was “30 billion euros to 40 billion euros” while a third source said May was prepared to pay “north of 30 billion euros”. Britain has dismissed an ultimatum by the EU to pay a “divorce bill” of around 60 billion euros before sitting at the negotiating table. In July, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson criticised the EU over Brussels’ demand, saying, “The sums I have seen that they propose to demand from this country appear to be extortionate.”
The UK is currently due to leave the EU at the end of March 2019 after nearly 52 per cent of Britons in an referendum in June last year opted to leave the bloc. The country formally triggered the Brexit process on March 29 and negotiations officially began on June 19. During their second round of talks held in July, the EU and UK Brexit teams failed to reach an agreement on 22 of the 44 issues under negotiation. The two sides still had “fundamental” differences over Britain’s exit bill and over the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said after the second round of negotiations.