In a startling turn of events, the UK showed itself willing to pay the Brexit bill, but they said they’re going to need something in advance. They demanded a trade-treaty with the European Union, and should that be to their liking, the Brits said they’re willing to wire-transfer €40 billion (£36 billion) to cover the so called Brexit bill.

That an actual number is on the table, is surprising, to say the least. Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis said on July 20 that Britain would honour its obligations to the EU, but declined to confirm that Brexit would require net payments. Other UK officials in turn blatantly said the EU would receive nothing for Brexit, and others even flipped it and said the EU should pay the UK due to the UK’s support in growing the EU to what is it to date.

But according to The Telegraph, Prime Minister May’s cabinet put the €40 billion on the table, because they deemed it essential to reach a breakthrough in the tough and slow Brexit negotiations.

The newspaper quoted one ‘senior Whitehall source’ as saying:

“We know (the EU’s) position is €60 billion, but the actual bottom line is €50 billion. Ours is closer to €30 billion but the actual landing zone is €40 billion, even if the public and politicians are not all there yet.”

Whitehall is the London district where most British government departments and ministers are based.

As expected, the EU deemed the €40 billion too low a number, and now the question remains if both parties are willing to settle. As mentioned, another problem is that the Brits are only willing to pay if there is a signed trade treaty between the UK and the EU. But according to the European Commission, this should be the other way around; first payment and significant progress on settling Britain’s liabilities before talks start on issues such as future trading arrangements can commence.

But this was before the “€40 billion” was on the table, maybe the EU is willing to add a little water to the wine and show their willingness to compromise a bit too.