Brexit: Germany and France 'want €100bn from UK'

It is widely believed in Whitehall that the leak to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of the supposedly car-crash Brexit dinner between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker was a German government initiative to put the UK on the back foot and show who is in charge.

But why, and why now?

Well all the talk in Brussels is that the Germans and French have upped the money they expect from us in the divorce settlement from €60bn (£50bn) - already seen as steep in Downing Street - to an eye-watering €100bn (£84bn).

The EU is demanding an eye-watering divorce settlement from the UK. Credit: PA

Now for the avoidance of doubt, there is zero chance of May paying that in almost any circumstance that I can imagine.

Even if the rest of the EU agreed to do what they currently say is unthinkable, which is to promise a generous free-trade arrangement early in the negotiating process.

Wednesday's publication by the main EU Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, of the draft and detailed technical mandate for talks will shed further light on why the rest of the EU believe we owe so much in severance payments.

And it will also do something else designed to rattle May - which is to list all the many and expensive rights it expects us to honour, as and when we say EU citizens currently living here never have to leave.

So as of now, the prospects of a happy Brexit entente between us and the EU 27 look more remote than ever.