The auditor general of the NAO told MPs, that the divorce payment will become legally binding the moment the UK and the EU sign the Withdrawal Treaty, which is likely to happen at least two years before both parties close a new trade deal.
"The payments are primarily in respect of continuing membership for the extension period. They don’t relate directly to whatever the future relationship may be," Morse said, as quoted by The Guardian.
This claim contradicts the statements made last year by the UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the UK Brexit Secretary David Davis. May said that London would not make any payment to the European Union if the parties fail to reach a new trade agreement.
Last March, May officially invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, launching the process of the country's withdrawal from the EU. Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union started in June and are due to be completed by the end of March 2019.
The first phase of talks focused on the protection of the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom and UK citizens in the bloc, UK-Irish border and London's financial obligations to Brussels after Brexit. The second phase is focusing on the post-Brexit transition period in EU-UK relations, and their future trade and security cooperation.