The Atlantic

Why Is Brexit So Expensive?

It’s less about economics than about negotiating power.
Source: Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

“Why,” begins a classic joke, “is divorce so expensive?” The U.K. is now facing its own divorce bill from the European Union, and though the exact figure is still under negotiation, it fits the premise—economic analysts project the sum could fall anywhere in the range of 20 billion to 100 billion euros. But with some U.K. leaders insisting they shouldn’t have to pay at all, it’s less clear it will fit the punchline: “Because it’s worth it.”

The massive range is a hint of just how difficult it is to determine what, if anything, the U.K. owes to the last week during a press conference in Brussels, “It’s not easy and it might be expensive, but we are not asking for a single pound or euro more than they have legally agreed to provide. You can discuss this or that budget line, but they have to start by recognizing that they have entered into commitments.” Though the U.K. hasn’t yet presented a formal response to the EU’s financial demand, some British lawmakers have dismissed the very idea of an exit bill as “” and “.”

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