The UK government's so called Brexit Department, set up by Theresa May to manage the country's split from the EU, has spent more than £250,000 ($332,848) on legal bills. Europe minister David Jones revealed the figure to former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg after a question in the House of Commons.

Jones, who serves under Brexit secretary David Davis, said the ministry is currently assessing the "overall requirement" for legal advice and related funding over the next year.

"To date the department has incurred an estimated total of £256,000 in fixed fee legal advice with the Government Legal Department and a further £12,711 in relation to additional billed fees and disbursements," the minister said.

"No spend has been incurred in relation to external legal firms."

The revelation comes after Liberal Democrat Tom Brake claimed it would cost taxpayers' £750,000 a year for a top Brexit negotiator.

"According to a headhunter I was speaking to a couple of weeks ago, the head of a trade negotiating team if hired as a consultant would cost around £750,000 a year," Brake told MPs. The salary would be more than five times that of the prime minister, who is awarded £143,462 per year.

Theresa May has said her government will not give a "running commentary" on Brexit negotiations, while Brussels waits for the Conservatives to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the official mechanism to split from the EU. The prime minister has ruled out triggering the mechanism this year.

Veteran MEP Guy Verhofstadt will lead Brexit negotiations for the European Parliament, it was announced yesterday. The federalist leads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and is a former prime minister of Belgium.

He has clashed with former Ukip leader Nigel Farage over the years. "Verhofstadt is a fanatical supporter of EU federalism even by the standards of the European Parliament," Farage said. "This appointment will no doubt speed up the UK's exit from the European Union."