THERESA May is facing a furious backlash after official figures revealed that her Brexit divorce deal is likely to cost Britain at least £8billion more than expected.
According to projections made by the Office for Budget Responsibility for Philip Hammond’s Budget, Britain will have to pay a minimum of £28billion to Brussels in the two years after leaving the EU.
The news has infuriated backbenchers and Brexit campaigners who warn that British voters will take a dim view of their cash being spent subsidising wasteful European countries. In her Florence speech, Mrs May offered to pay Britain’s full contribution to the end of the current EU budget which concludes in 2021 – two years after Brexit takes place in March 2019.
This was in exchange for a two-year transition period where the UK leaves the EU in stages to allow the country and businesses to adjust.
Government sources claimed that the net cost of paying until the end of the budget period was around £20billion. But the OBR has said that it will instead be £13.8billion in 2019/20 and £14billion in 2020/21.
It has also warned that the potential cost of a transition period is growing and is already £2.1billion more than it told ministers in March.
Senior Tory MP Peter Bone, who founded the Brexit campaign group Grassroots Out, raised concerns that ministers are trying to hide the cost of a divorce bill to get a deal with the EU when it might be better to walk away from talks and go on to adopt World Trade Organisation rules for doing business.
He said: “Well done to the Daily Express for exposing this in the small print of the Budget.
“We had been told that the figure was around £20billion but that clearly wasn’t true. We need transparency and honesty on this figure.”
He added: “I certainly would not support paying this amount to Brussels. I don’t think my constituents or many other people in the country will be happy about billions of pounds which should be spent on public services here being used to subsidise public services in Romania and Bulgaria. “There is no requirement for us to pay Brussels a penny when we leave so £28billion is unacceptable.”
Professor Patrick Minford, the chairman of Economists for Free Trade, said that the revelation proves that it is better for Britain to leave without a deal with the EU.
He said: “Transition is an expensive nonsense and it has now got several billion more expensive. No deal remains the best deal.”
The eye-watering figure is expected to get even higher with Mrs May reportedly deciding to offer up to £36billion to get a trade deal with the EU.
Last week the Daily Express revealed that pro-Brexit ministers are considering resigning if Mrs May tries to force through a deal with a massive divorce bill unless it comes with a trade deal that gives Britain completely unfettered access to EU markets and leaves the UK free to make new trade deals around the world.