BRITAIN will contribute at least a further £26billion in membership contributions to the European Union (EU) over the two years it negotiates a Brexit deal to leave the bloc.
The eye-watering figure means Britain is effectively funding Brussels’ Brexit negotiations, as the cash will go into the EU’s budget.
The total even includes the money the UK will be refunded due to its rebate.
And the figure will be on top the £50bn Britain will be asked for to settle its “divorce bill”, a figure bigger than the country’s annual defence budget.
Jonathan Arnott Ukip MEP and member of the Budgetary Control Committee told Express.co.uk: “For us to continue paying our full membership is absurd and illogical. Many EU projects now are being planned to be in operation post-Brexit and I think even the most ardent europhiles wouldn’t want us paying into projects we don’t belong to.
“This is on top of their poorly disguised threat of a £50billion divorce bill. When will they get it? The British people voted to stop this madness and this reckless spending has to be brought under control.”
The exact figures are uncertain as they depend on variances such as the exchange rate, but European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker described the amount as “hefty”.
Under the terms of EU membership a country is still deemed to be part of the group even though Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 earlier this week to signal the country’s intention to leave.
The £50bn divorce bill is essentially the UK’s share of liabilities minus its share of the assets.
Liabilities total £206bn, according to the Centre for European Reform. And they include ongoing projects, a £55bn EU pensions fund, and projects the EU has committed to but not yet paid for.
If Britain is forced to pay the divorce bill, it will mean the UK is funding projects benefitting the remaining EU27 members, despite walking away from Brussels.
Schemes include the Galileo satellite navigation system which is expected to be operational by 2019.
Jayne Adye, director of cross-party group Get Britain Out, speaking to Express.co.uk said: “For years, the UK has been paying vast sums of money into the EU. It is about time this ends. The EU shouldn’t be given a penny more than is absolutely necessary.
The EU’s chief negotiator Guy Verhofstadt
“It’s been estimated our contributions to the EU have cost British taxpayers over half a trillion pounds since 1973, and I think this is enough.
“The UK has funded the EU’s extravagant buildings, chauffeur driven cars, lavish catering and its wine collection. The EU should be saying thank you to us, instead of playing hard ball with Brexit. They should be calculating Britain’s refund to keep us as their friendly neighbours, rather than demanding more money from its golden goose.
“If the EU is concerned about its ability to fund EU pensions after Brexit, then perhaps the UK should be liable only for our own MEP pensioners – taking a chunk out of what they are trying to bill us for. We should not be forced to continue to fund the pensions of highly paid bureaucrats who aren’t even from this country.
“As we said during the referendum campaign – we want control over our money – and Prime Minister, please remember this – the United Kingdom is behind you on this, as I know only too well from all the emails and comments from the supporters of Get Britain Out.”
The UK though is expected to demand some return on its share of the EU assets.
These include things such as property and equipment that include the European Commission’s Berlaymont Building as well as Europe House in Smith Square in London, which was once the Conservative Party’s headquarters.
The UK’s exit from the bloc will leave one long-term problem for the EU mandarins – how to plug the already stretched budget left by the loss of the UK’s annual contributions.
Richer countries such as France and Germany pay find it politically unacceptable to make up the difference while the poorer ones will equally find it unacceptable to receive less in benefits.