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UK warned it faces ‘very hefty’ Brexit bill

Britain will be landed with a “very hefty bill” to get out of the EU exit door, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has warned.

Mr Juncker also said that a trade deal with the EU would take years – indicating it would be significantly longer than the two years Theresa May had promised.

He said the UK would not walk away from the EU without paying a penny and would need to pay its share of EU spending already agreed to during its time as membership.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Juncker said: “The British should know this, they know this already, that it will not be at a discount or at zero cost. The British must respect commitments they were involved in making.

“So the bill will be, to put it a bit crudely, very hefty.”

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The former UK ambassador to the EU Sir Ivan Rogers told MPs last month that the UK will end up having to pay the EU up to €60bn (£51bn) to leave.

He also said he thought it would be the “early to mid 2020s” before a trade deal with the EU was ratified.

Mr Juncker said: “We need to settle our affairs not with our hearts full of a feeling of hostility, but with the knowledge that the continent owes a lot to the UK.

“Without Churchill, we would not be here – we mustn’t forget that, but we mustn’t be naive.”

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The Prime Minister is expected to trigger Article 50, officially starting the EU divorce process, by the end of next month.

The move will begin the two-year negotiations on the UK’s departure and the conditions the remaining 27 members are willing to give it. Mrs May has said that trade deal negotiations will take place in tandem.

Her view has been echoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has previously said that Brexit negotiations and trade deal talks would need to be a “parallel process” – but has never put a time frame on the trade deal.

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Mr Juncker said: “To agree on the future architecture of relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union, we will need years.”

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier wants the Brexit bill to be discussed early in negotiations, which could be difficult for the Prime Minister.

The Leave campaign claim that the £350m a week paid to the EU by the UK would be returned on exit was key in bringing out the Brexit vote.

A large bill that could see the UK continue paying out to the EU would be unpopular with a public promised an imminent reversal of cash.

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