Preparations for the United Kingdom’s exit of the European Union cost British taxpayers 4.4 billion pounds (€5.1 billion, $5.7 billion), according to the UK’s National Audit Office (NAO). In the first detailed estimate of the cost of the Brexit, the NAO on Friday estimated that the British government spent about 70% of the 6.3 billion pounds allocated to cover the cost of preparations between the June 2016 referendum and March 31 of this year. The allocated money accounts for the possibility of the UK and EU not reaching a trade deal before the end of a transition period that expires at the end of 2020. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned of “serious divergences” in expectations between the EU and the UK as the first round of post-Brexit trade talks wrapped up on Thursday. “To be completely frank with you … there are many divergences, and they are very serious divergences, which is probably quite natural,” Barnier said. Read more: What do both sides want? The NAO said most of the money was spent on staff costs (1.9 billion pounds), building new infrastructure (1.5 billion pounds) and paying for external advice (288 million pounds). Some 22,000 government officials were working… Read full this story
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