Tens of billions of pounds could be added to the UK’s £39 billion Brexit divorce bill

The real size of the UK’s Brexit divorce bill from the EU could significantly exceed £39 billion because the EU’s spending pledges and pension costs rose by tens of billions of euros last year.

The EU’s auditor described member countries annual budget fees as “moveable,” the Guardian reported, because they are linked to changing commitments and liabilities.

The British government insists that the Brexit bill will be £39 billion, with payments that mostly decrease annually until 2064. But EU negotiators have never endorsed a specific figure, with one senior EU source estimating last year the figure would be £53 billion.

The UK has agreed to pay a share of EU bills as part of its divorce settlement from the EU.

The claims are different because they rest on a complex series of calculations with uncertain factors including the likelihood of an EU country defaulting on a loan and the life expectancy of Brussels diplomats.

New figures released by EU auditors reflect the EU’s growing debts and liabilities that the UK will be forced to pay into after Brexit. Spending pledges hit €267 billion, or £237 billion, last year, up from €239 billion (£212 billion) in 2016.

Both pension contributions and EU budget guarantees rose significantly and the backlog, which auditors say the EU should bring under control, is increasing faster than predicted.