UK 'prepared to pay £36bn Brexit divorce bill'

Now we're getting down to brass tacks.

The UK is prepared to offer the EU £36 billion in payment of outstanding liabilities as we leave, according to the Sunday Telegraph. The figure seems to be well sourced and has a plausibility about it. Equivalent to 40 billion euros it is significantly less than the 100 billion euros some in the EU had mooted and is at least approaching the same ball park as the more commonly suggested 60 billion euros.

Two things are particularly interesting here.

Firstly, there has not been much outrage amongst Eurosceptics. Richard Tice, from the Leave Means Leave campaign group, said: "Speculation about a 'divorce bill' is particularly unhelpful."

Brexit Secretary David Davis (left) with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier. Credit: AP

That's a long way from Boris Johnson saying the EU could 'go whistle' if they wanted a big divorce bill. There's a degree of acceptance.

Secondly, perhaps that's partly because Parliament is on its hols, MPs are just not around to get angry.

So is this a deliberate leak at a quiet time to get people used to the idea that the UK will pay something, to 'roll the pitch'? Well another little noticed story seems to suggest so. The Politico website has revealed that UK position papers on a transitional deal and on the Irish border are expected to be published next week, again slap bang in the middle of MPs' holidays.

It seems a little coincidental that after months of speculation about what the UK's position might be on these issues that the Government is suddenly revealing its hand when no one is in Parliament to force them to think again.