The UK has hit back at the EU over its hefty Brexit divorce bill, saying it did not recognise the figure and insisting the final payment would remain within the government’s own projections.
The bloc last night said Britain was liable to pay €47.5bn (£41bn) to the EU as part of a post-Brexit financial settlement.
The figure is higher than previous UK estimates of between £35bn and £39bn and has sparked a row between Brussels and Downing Street.
“We don’t recognise that figure,” the prime minister’s spokesman told reporters today.
“It’s an estimate produced by the EU for its own internal accounting purposes. For example, it doesn’t reflect all the money owed back to the UK, which reduces the amount we pay.”
According to the EU’s annual accounts, first reported by RTE, the UK must pay €35bn to cover its share of the EU’s outstanding spending commitments as of 31 December, when the transition period ended.
It must also pay €14.3bn relating to EU liabilities, such as pensions and sickness insurance of retired EU staff, which the UK owes under Article 143 of the Withdrawal Agreement.
The combined payments total €49.3bn, but the figure is offset by €2.1bn which is owed to the UK by the EU.
But the Treasury has doubled down on its previous estimates, which were drawn up in 2017. An updated estimate is set to be published next week.
Under the terms of repayment set out by the EU, an initial amount of €6.8bn is due for repayment this year, while the majority will be paid over several decades.