Britain is prepared to pay up to £36 billion to the European Union (EU) to settle the so-called Brexit divorce bill, the Sunday Telegraph reports, quoting sources familiar with the on-going negotiations.
Senior Whitehall officials have concluded that such an offer – the first time a precise figure has been proposed – is the only way to break the current deadlock in negotiations.
However, the UK will only agree to pay the €40 billion sum it if the EU agrees to negotiate the financial settlement as part of a deal on future relations, including a trade deal.
The government department responsible for Brexit talks declined to comment on the Sunday Telegraph article.
“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 newspaper quoted a “senior Whitehall source” as saying.
The newspaper said British officials were likely to offer to pay 10 billion euros a year for three years after leaving the EU in March 2019, then finalise the total alongside detailed trade talks. But Britain has given no official indication of how much it is willing to pay.
Whitehall is the London district where British civil servants and ministers are based.
According to Reuters, if Britain cannot conclude an exit deal, trade relations would be governed by World Trade Organization rules, which would allow both parties to impose tariffs and customs checks and leave many other issues unsettled.
The EU has also wants agreement by October on rights of EU citizens already in Britain, and on border controls between the Irish Republic and the British province of Northern Ireland, before trade and other issues are discussed.