British Prime Minister Theresa May appears to be edging closer to a Brexit deal with the European Union.
British Prime Minister Theresa May appears to be edging closer to a Brexit deal with the European Union. JULIEN WARNAND

Brexit clears $79b payout hurdle

BRITISH and European Union negotiators have reached an in-principle deal on the Brexit "divorce bill” that could cost the UK $79billion (£45billion).

Sources in Brussels suggested the two sides' stances were beginning to align over the "methodology” for calculating the settlement, with the outcome increasingly acceptable to both sides.

If given the backing of President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and British Prime Minister Theresa May (pictured) at a meeting on Monday, the deal would help clear the way for EU leaders to agree to move Brexit talks on to trade at a crunch December summit.

The financial settlement has in recent days been eclipsed by the Irish border issue and citizens' rights - a sign it is no longer the main sticking point in discussions.

Sources in both London and Brussels said that no final agreement had yet been set in stone, but intense negotiations ahead of the Monday's meeting appear to have borne fruit.

No figure has been explicitly agreed upon, but sources in Brussels highlighted that the EU had always been pushing for clarity on how the bill would be drawn up as opposed to an outright number.

Other reports also filtered out of Brussels on Tuesday night pointing to negotiators having edged towards an agreement totalling between £45 billion and £55 billion.

Later, further reports emerged that cabinet ministers in London had agreed negotiating positions on keeping the Irish border open and an ongoing role for the European Court of Justice in guaranteeing EU citizens' rights.

It was suggested in reports from Brussels that the figure would be deliberately left open to interpretation to give the Prime Minister political cover in the UK.

Theresa May said in her Florence speech in September that no EU country "need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave” and that "the UK will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership”.

- Jon Stone and Joe Watts, The Independent



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