Britain is prepared to pay up to 40 billion euros ($47 billion) as part of a deal to leave the European Union, according to newspaper reports - and may have to keep making payments for long-term programmes to the European Union even after it leaves the bloc in 2019. As David Pollard reports, British consumers are getting increasingly worried about their bills too.
Bills are getting bigger for British consumers as inflation bites. But the biggest bill is yet to come. Brexit. Forty billion euros could be how much the UK government is willing to pay as part of a divorce settlement. A figure reported by a UK newspaper quoting sources close to the EU separation talks - but not, so far, officially confirmed. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WILSON KING INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, HEAD OF RESEARCH, RICHARD HUNTER, SAYING: "That particular figure of 40 billion has already been denied by the government on the simple basis that no figures have actually been dealt with yet or arrived at. By the same token of course we had the Bank of England last week downgrading the forecast for growth of the UK on the basis of the ongoing Brexit uncertainty." Two new surveys also sound the alarm. Mortgage lender Halifax says house price rises are at their weakest in four years. Payments company Visa puts consumer spending on its longest losing streak also for four years. If there are still pockets of spending. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WILSON KING INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, HEAD OF RESEARCH, RICHARD HUNTER, SAYING: "Some of the retailers have been saying of late, Next in particular, that consumer discretionary spending is moving more towards things like restaurants and bars an away from clothing. So that's just an interesting sideshow. But the overall trend without question is that the U.K. consumer is starting to show rather more caution." At forty billion euros, a final Brexit bill would be smaller than the 60 billion euros figure floated by the EU. Though that's not to say there won't be other demands on Britain's finances. According to EU budget commissioner Guenther Oettinger, speaking to a German newspaper, Britain will have to keep making payments for long-term programmes to the European Union until 2020 or beyond .... In other words, for one year after it leaves the bloc - at the very least.