£48 billion is the price of divorce
Sky News have revealed that Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is set to demand €57bn (£48bn) in a divorce settlement from Britain following talks in Brussels this week.
Sky News made the claims after an apparent meeting between UK and EU negotiators on Monday 6th February in which the figure was agreed on. France and Germany, it is said, were demanding that the UK pay upwards of £59 billion to settle their commitments to EU spending up to 2020.
The UK government is already committed to tens of billions of Euros worth of spending across EU projects which were agreed before the referendum as well as pension payments to officials. The spending commitments are non-negotiable and the EU have declared that no trade arrangements can begin until the final figure is agreed between the two parties.
The figure could come as an embarrassment to Leave campaigners like Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage who had claimed that the cost of leaving the EU would be negligible. This also doesn’t take in to account the spending pledges that the government have made in order to cover EU investment in to UK agricultural and business projects after we leave the union.
The UK had reportedly hoped to make trade arrangements with the bloc in parallel to negotiations about the so called “divorce settlement” figure but this has now been slapped down by EU officials.
In a wide-ranging discussion it was also concluded that reciprocal rights for EU nationals would have to start from "ground zero". This is despite the Prime Minister wanting to settle the rights of EU nationals in the UK and British nationals elsewhere as a priority.
Many had predicted that EU negotiations could be some of the most complicated ever seen and so far there has been no reason to doubt this assumption with this news emerging before the Prime Minister has even triggered Article 50, the formal process for leaving the union.