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UK Officials Have Privately Told Senior Bankers The Brexit Divorce Bill Will Be Close To £50 Billion

Britain’s final “divorce” bill for leaving the European Union could be as high as £50 billion, several current and former senior government officials have told City executives.

BuzzFeed News has learned of at least three separate recent occasions on which Whitehall insiders with knowledge of the Brexit negotiations told contacts in the banking sector that the UK will have to pay close to that amount, giving private assessments of the divorce bill that were different to the government’s public position.

One of the estimates was included in a confidential memo for top corporate executives compiled by well-connected former government officials, including some who worked at a high level in 10 Downing Street. The memo, seen by BuzzFeed News, claims that senior figures in the government believe a payment of around £50 billion will be necessary to secure a trade deal with the EU before Britain leaves in March 2019.

That figure does not reflect the views of Theresa May or her closest advisers, a spokesman for Downing Street said.

The document was shared with BuzzFeed News on the condition that its authors were not identified.

BuzzFeed News is aware of two other, unconnected recent conversations in which officials from the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) and the Treasury gave similar estimates of the likely exit bill to senior executives at leading financial services firms. Those executives regarded the assessments as authoritative, even though the officials were giving accounts at variance with official government policy.

Separately, a Treasury official told BuzzFeed News the divorce bill would be around £45 billion.

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