Britain’s final bill for leaving the EU is £40.8 billion, according to accounts filed in Brussels, a greater sum than previously forecast.
Officials had estimated the final cost would be £39 billion – £1.8 billion less than the EU amount contained in the EU’s consolidated budget report for 2020.
The final bill would have been higher, almost £43 billion, but Brussels owes the UK £1.8 billion for its share of fines imposed by the bloc before the end of the Brexit transition period at the end of last year.
Ministers believed the final Brexit bill would be less than £39 billion because the numerous Brexit extensions meant that the total was decreased thanks to the UK’s contributions to the EU Budget.
The Office for Budget Responsibility said in November there was about £25 billion left to pay by 2057. About £18 billion will be paid in the first five years, the BBC has reported.
News of the final withdrawal settlement comes amid tension between Brussels and London over the Northern Ireland Protocol which was created to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
It ties Northern Ireland to a variety of EU customs checks, which has resulted in trade disruption since its implementation in January.
The financial settlement was agreed during tense talks over the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
Both sides signed off on a method to calculate what was owed in 2017 but the Withdrawal Agreement itself was not ratified until 2019.
Agreement on the financial settlement was a precondition for the trade talks which ended on Christmas Eve last year with a deal.
British politicians insisted that the Brexit bill would not be paid if the negotiations ended in no deal.
Some £197.8 million is due to be paid in 2021 with the rest paid out over several decades, according to the EU accounts.
The bill is divided into two parts, one is related to outstanding spending commitments made when the UK was a member state.
The other part covers pension liabilities and health insurance for EU staff.
The figures were first reported by the RTE broadcaster, which said that the EU accounts had not yet been signed off by auditors.
Tony Murphy, Ireland’s member of the EU’s Court of Auditors, said the figure was unlikely to change.