The figures were “highly speculative and wrong,” a senior Downing Street official told The Independent.
It was reported earlier in the day that London had agreed to pay the EU €10 billion every year for up to three years after Brexit.
In its report, The Sunday Telegraph quoted a Whitehall source saying: “We know that [the EU’s] position is €60 billion, but the actual bottom line is €50 billion.”
“Ours is closer to €30 billion, but the landing zone is €40 billion even if the public and politicians are not all there yet.”
Another Whitehall source said Britain’s offer was “€30 billion to €40 billion” while a third one said May was willing to shell out “north of €30 billion.”
The EU has demanded tens of billions of euros from Britain as part of its “Brexit bill” before Brussels launches talks on a free trade agreement with London.
Reports have suggested the demand from the EU could be as high as 100 billion euros (84.58 billion pounds). The UK government has said it will not pay this amount but will settle its “obligations” as it leaves.
Last month, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said EU leaders could “go whistle” if they thought Britain would pay such an “exorbitant” divorce bill.
Peter Bone, a Conservative Member of Parliament, said even if May was willing to pay, the alleged fee was going to be voted down by lawmakers.
“One of the prime reasons the UK voted to leave the EU was to stop sending them billions of pounds per year, so it would be totally bizarre to give the EU any money, let alone £36 billion, given also that over the years that we have been in the EU or its predecessor we have given them, net, over £200 billion,” he added.
The UK is currently due to leave the EU at the end of March 2019 after nearly 52 percent of Britons opted to leave the bloc during the EU referendum in June last year.
EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said in the beginning of Brexit talks in Brussels, Belgium last month that the negotiations were “very unlikely” to succeed if the two sides could not make better progress.