How much has Brexit cost? The staggering amount for UK taxpayers

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Brexit has caused political turmoil in recent weeks. The shock announcement of Boris Johnson’s Internal Market Bill, which would effectively scrap the Withdrawal Agreement and jeopardise the Good Friday Agreement, has thrown an already divided Parliament into chaos.

Brexit negotiations are also making little progress, with the UK refusing to back down on some of its key points.

The animosity that has characterised much of the negotiating period is still ample, and the Government now working on the assumption that it is highly unlikely the UK will be able to reach an agreement.

Whether the UK is going to get a deal at all is now totally up in the air – and the potential for the scrapping of the Withdrawal Agreement means a no-deal Brexit could look different from imagined as well.

The truth is, the real cost of Brexit will not be clear until way ahead in the future – but how much has it cost so far?

There is no definitive figure for the cost of Brexit so far.

A report from Bloomberg Economics estimates that Brexit has set Britain back to the tune of £130 billion so far.

What’s more, it further estimates that figure is likely to top £200 billion by the end of the year.

Between 1973 and 2018, the UK’s net contribution to the EU was £216 billion in real terms, according to Full Fact.

To put these figures into context, in 2018 the UK economy was worth about £2.1 trillion – or £2,144 billion.

According to the Institute for Government, the eventual cost of Brexit is also heavily dependent on whether the UK leaves with or without a deal.

The Institute for Government analysis of the Brexit cost says: “If the UK fails to negotiate the access to EU regulators that the Prime Minister wants, the costs are likely to grow – new arms-length bodies and new border functions will need to be operational.

“If it successfully negotiates continued participation in agencies and systems, the impact on Whitehall budgets could be less significant.”

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The more expensive option of no-deal Brexit is more likely, with a deal needing to be struck by the end of October to allow time for ratification on both ends.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has also claimed that despite the UK’s desire for independence from the EU, in practice it was seeking the status quo, but without obligations.

He said: ”We know well the UK’s argument: you want a clean break from the EU, you want full sovereignty and the freedom to set its own rules and spend its own money as it wants, with no constraints from Europe.

“And yet the truth is that British negotiators are still seeking continuity in many areas, not a ‘clean break’ at all,” he added.

“The UK government is still looking to keep the benefits of the EU and of the Single Market without the obligations,” he went on, singling out transport, energy trading, standards for goods, and cooperation on police and judicial matters.

The EU has not been shy about growing frustration about how talks are progressing.

Following a round of talks in August, the UK’s chief British negotiator David Frost called on the EU to strike the sort of free trade deal it had concluded with other international partners, and to agree “practical arrangements of cooperation” in other areas.

The British Government has repeated this appeal, after the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused the UK of an “intransigent and unrealistic attitude” that was stalling the talks.

The Government said: “The EU is still insisting not only that we must accept continuity with EU state aid and fisheries policy, but also that this must be agreed before any further substantive work can be done in any other area of the negotiation, including on legal texts, making it unnecessarily difficult to make progress.

One thing is for sure – the end of the transition period will bring significant changes regardless of the outcome of the talks.

Going out without a deal would see the UK and EU trade on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms, bringing significant tariff and non-tariff barriers overnight.

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