Number 10 dismisses €40bn divorce bill claim

 
Catherine Neilan
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Estimates have varied from as low as £21bn to as high as £100bn (Source: Getty)

Number 10 has dismissed reports this weekend that the government was willing to pay a divorce bill of up to €40bn (£36bn) as part of its deal to leave the European Union.

A Downing Street spokesman said this morning he did not "recognise" the figure, as reported at the weekend. Instead, he suggested, the talks were still ongoing.

"The Prime Minister made clear in the letter triggering Article 50 that the UK and the EU need to discuss a fair settlement of both our rights and obligations as an EU member state," he added.

Estimates for the divorce bill - which will cover items that the UK has already committed to, such as the cost of running certain EU-wide bodies and the bloc's budget - have run up to £100bn. One think tank estimated it could be as low as £21bn.

Either way, the topic is thought to have been kicked into the long grass while matters such as citizens rights are settled.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson last month put the cat among the pigeons by saying the EU could "go whistle" for this "extortionate" bill.

Last week the government confirmed that free movement would end when Article 50 comes into being next March, something which the business community dubbed a "disaster".

A proposal for a transitional arrangement is expected to be published as early as next week, however some fear that having unilaterally taken a stance on free movement could hinder any hope of easing the UK's departure from the EU.

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