Blog: Brexit: UK says divorce bill set to total £37.3bn, lower than latest EU estimate – as it happened – The Guardian

The government expects to pay a Brexit divorce bill of £37.3bn, a total that falls short of the EU’s recent estimate.

In a statement to parliament today, the chief secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay, said the Brexit financial settlement was estimated at £37.3bn, within the government’s previous forecast range of £35-39bn.

The European commission, however, expects the final bill to be almost £41bn, based on an estimate of €47.5bn published in its annual accounts last week.

Officials insist there is no dispute, as the UK withdrawal agreement agreed in October 2019 by both sides specifies a method for calculating the bill, rather than an amount.

The government also said it had already paid a €3.74bn tranche of the Brexit bill this year. UK officials do not contest the EU statement that €6.8bn is due in 2021.

The government’s estimate was contained in an annual Treasury report on EU finances, which stated that £12bn has been spent across government departments since 2016 in preparing for Brexit, including no-deal planning and upgrading borders.

It also confirmed that the UK intends to opt back into EU programmes on research (Horizon), earth observation satellites (Copernicus), energy (Euratom research & training and Fusion for Energy). The UK will make a “proportionate contribution” to these programmes the government said, without revealing how much.

The Brexit bill consists of EU spending plans British governments signed up to during 47 years of membership, as well as the pensions and healthcare costs of senior EU officials. Some of the money is funding EU programmes in the UK that have not yet wound up.

The UK’s divorce payments to Brussels are expected to continue for decades, so the true Brexit bill will only be known long after today’s politicians have left the stage.

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