Britain will have to pay Brexit 'divorce bill', says Irish Prime Minister

Joe Watts
Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny: Getty Images

The Irish Taoiseach has signalled that Britain will have to pay a Brexit “divorce bill” when it quits the EU, which could be up to €60bn by some estimates.

Enda Kenny arrived at the EU Council meeting in Brussels to tell reporters the level of the bill owed by the UK will have to “be determined”.

It comes after a report by a parliamentary committee said that the UK may not be legally bound to pay any separation settlement.

Speaking to reporters as he arrived at the summit, Mr Kenny said: “When you sign on for a contract you commit yourself to participation and obviously the extent of that level of money will be determined.”

Chief negotiator for the European Commission Michel Barnier has indicated the Bill may be the first issue the UK has to deal with in Brexit negotiations.

Mr Kenny added: “Mr Barnier is the lead negotiator for the European Union and obviously Britain will have a say.

“But that no more than any other problem will have to be faced, it will have to be dealt with and it will be dealt with.”

A recent report from the Lords EU Financial Affairs Subcommittee said the Government would be in a strong legal position to avoid payment should the upcoming Article 50 negotiations result in no post-Brexit deal.

Their analysis argued the UK would be under no obligation to pay the ‘divorce bill’ being discussed by the European Commission, which EU officials have suggested could be between €40bn and €60bn, nor would it have to honour EU budget payments agreed by former prime minister David Cameron.

More conservative estimates put the potential bill at €15bn, with the money meant to cover budget contributions to 2020, as well as pension payments for European officials.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has said the UK would “abide by its international commitments”, but has also characterised the bill as a “a piece of negotiating strategy that we are seeing in Brussels.”

He added: “We are a nation that honours its obligations and if we do have any bills that fall to be paid we will obviously deal with them in the proper way.”

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