BRITAIN will pay £12 billion into Brussels coffers next year even though the public has voted to leave the European Union (EU).
The eye-watering figure has been revealed in a new draft budget released by the EU Commission and equates to a staggering £230million a week.
Britain’s billions in contributions jumped up to double figures in 2014 when Brussels demanded a £34bn injection from the UK after realising it was facing a £259billion shortfall by the end of the decade.
Brussels has this year cut the overall budget for the project from £120bn to £113bn amid growing criticism of its “bloated” institution and chronic waste.
The budget, which will need to be ratified by member states and the European Parliament, will raise questions over how long Britain will need to continue paying into the EU.
A spokesman for the Commission said: “The UK remains a member of the EU with all rights and obligations. Consequently, the results of the UK referendum have no impact on Draft EU Budget 2017.”
It is expected that British taxpayers will continue to fund the project for at least two years following the Brexit vote, though officials have privately admitted "nobody knows" how long it will take to disentangle the UK from Brussels.
As soon as the process is started, Britain will have just two years to negotiate its exit from the European Union with other member states.
If the deadline passes without an agreement, the UK will simply cease to be an EU member overnight.
It can only be extended by the unanimous vote of all the remaining 27 countries in the bloc, with some experts predicting there may be little appetite to accommodate Britain post-Brexit.
And one exasperated senior UK official has admitted: “The honest answer is nobody knows how long this would take and we would all be making it up.”
Other Tory leadership candidates, such as Liam Fox and Michael Gove, have advocated delaying triggering legal talks with Brussels, during which time the UK would continue to foot its membership bill.
Before the referendum Vote Leave campaign director Dominic Cummings said an immediate move to set article 50 in motion would be “mad and like putting a gun into your mouth and pulling the trigger”.
Whilst UK politicians could theoretically refuse to sign off on payments to Brussels now we have opted for Brexit, such a move would be seen as highly provocative and could effectively torpedo negotiations on our trade access to the 500-million person bloc.
Andrew Duff, a former Liberal Democrat MEP who helped devise article 50, said: “The EU could not allow a seceding state to spin things out for too long. The clause puts most of the cards in the hands of those that stay in.”
And Agata Gosty?ska-Jakubowska of the pro-EU Centre for European Reform said any attempts by Britain to delay leaving the bloc for too long could be “unacceptable for the EU partners”, further eroding goodwill and weakening our negotiating hand.