Britain's Brexit divorce bill 'will not be paid off until 2064'

Written by Kevin Schofield and Tom Freeman on 13 March 2018 in News

Chancellor Philip Hammond's Spring statement reveals long term cost of Brexit

Brexit - PA

Britain will not pay off its divorce bill for leaving the European Union until nearly 50 years after the Brexit referendum, it has emerged.

Figures released by the Office for Budget Responsibility revealed that the last instalment will finally be paid in 2064.

Theresa May agreed with Brussels in December that the UK would hand over between £35bn and £39bn when it quits the EU next year.

According to an OBR document published alongside Philip Hammond's Spring Statement, the final total will come in at £37.1bn.

And under the terms of the agreement, Britain will make annual payments towards it for decades to come.

Part of the reason is that the UK must continue to pay towards the pensions of current EU employees.

However, a senior Treasury official said the UK could agree with the EU to settle its dues earlier if "that is in our mutual interest".

He added: "An important part of the December agreement is that the UK should not have to pay anything to the EU earlier than it would have otherwise done had it been a member state.

"We do not want to bring our bills forward, so the long tail might be a contribution to someone's pension who is relatively young.

"You don't want to bring your bills forward, just as you wouldn't want to bring your bills forward in terms of your household finances. However we have an option to do so if we judge it is in our interests."

Meanwhile, the Treasury has also allocated £3bn to Whitehall departments to help them prepare for Brexit.

The biggest winner is the Home Office, which will receive £395m, with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs getting £310m and HM Revenue and Customs with £260m.

Eloise Todd, chief executive of pro-EU campaign group Best For Britain, said: "The OBR report is another absolute Brexit shocker. We already knew that the cost of Brexit would fall on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren - now we're told that even our great grandchildren will have a bill to pay.

"Far from the fantasy millions promised by Brexiteers, it's becoming increasingly clear that Britain will be facing a Brexit deficit. No one who voted Leave was told we would still be paying the divorce bill in 2064.

"The Government should be honest with the British public: Brexit will leave our country poorer and ensure that the tyranny of austerity is here to stay."

But in his statement Hammond predicted the UK economy had reached a turning point and there was "light at the end of the tunnel" after projections for growth were revised up and inflation forecasts revised down.

Grahame Smith, general secretary of the STUC, said the chancellor had presented economic failure as success.

"In 2010 we were told that austerity would last five years. We are now into our eighth year, with a Chancellor who is only beginning to talk about ‘the light at the end of the tunnel.’ He has completely failed to grasp the devastation that sustained and severe austerity has inflicted on our public services and on our economy," he said.



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