LONDON — The United Kingdom may have to pay as much as $6 billion a year for access to the European Union’s single market after it leaves the 28-nation bloc, according to a report.
The sum is about half the amount the U.K. would have expected to contribute to the EU were it to remain in the organization, the BBC said. Access to the single market allows EU members to trade with each other without restrictions.
The U.K.'s contribution to the EU was one of the factors, along with immigration, behind voter support for withdrawing from the union.
"There is all the difference in the world between 'access to' and 'membership of' the single market. Membership is likely to offer significant economic benefits particularly for trade in services," said Ian Mitchell, a research fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, according to the Telegraph. He said maintaining membership could be worth potentially 4% on GDP.
A leaked British government report said Tuesday that a "hard Brexit" — Britain leaving the single market — could lose the country up to $81 billion a year.
British lawmakers are debating the government’s Brexit plans Wednesday. It comes after Bloomberg reported that Prime Minister Theresa May accepted that lawmakers should be able to vote on her Brexit plan late Tuesday, prompting the pound to rally against the dollar in Asian trading Wednesday.
May has said she will trigger the Brexit process by the end of March 2017.