Britain and Brussels clash over £40bn Brexit divorce bill

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London

Britain and Brussels are back at loggerheads as a fresh row emerges over the size of the Brexit divorce bill. European Union accounts put the new net figure for the financial settlement as £40.8 billion, at least £1.8bn more than the highest UK estimate for the payments.

Downing Street rejected the figure on Friday and doubled down on its previous estimates of between £35 billion and £39 billion. More details would be presented to Parliament in the near future, it said

The dispute comes hot on the heels of a string of clashes since the UK left the Single Market and Customs Union at the end of last year.

The UK and European Commission have fought over vaccine supplies, Northern Ireland, fishing rights and come close to triggering a trade war over sausages.

Both sides agreed a method for calculating what was owed by the UK after 47 years of membership but did not settle on an exact figure in the Brexit negotiations.

“We don’t recognise that figure, it’s an estimate produced by the EU for its own internal accounting purposes,” a No 10 spokesman said.

“For example, it doesn’t reflect all the money owed back to the UK, which reduces the amount we pay. Our estimate remains in the central range of between £35 and £39 billion and we will publish full details in Parliament shortly.”

In Brussels, a European Commission spokesman said the new figure was “correct”. “The report is final and the calculations were made in line with the withdrawal agreement,” he said. –Agenies

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