Tories Urge May to Exploit Merkel’s Weakness to Reduce Brexit Bill

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Leading Tory Brexit supporters have urged the prime minister to take advantage of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s weakness and failure to form a government.

Theresa May has reportedly agreed with her cabinet to roughly double the offered Brexit ‘divorce bill,’ but Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative Party leader, urged her to “sit tight”, The Times reports.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Tory MP for North East Somerset, said that it would be “foolish” to hike the offer at a time when Mrs. Merkel needed to reassure German voters and businesses they will still be able to trade with the UK.

He told the paper: “Approving a higher divorce bill at this stage would be foolish… As for Germany, its domestic political concerns make it less likely that it would want to risk the damage that could be done to its industry from the UK imposing tariffs on its exports.”

Mr. Duncan Smith added: “When you look at what is going on in Europe the idea that out of that chaotic situation can come any sort of understanding is clearly not right, so we will have to sit tight.”

The German chancellor’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and sister Christian Social Union (CSU) parties recently suffered their worst election result since 1949, with the populist, right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) surging.

Their former coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SDP), also had their worst post-war election performance and announced they would quit the “grand coalition” and go into opposition.

Mrs. Merkel had since failed to form a government with Germany’s Free Democrats and the Greens, with ideological differences proving too great. On Monday, she said she was “very sceptical” about running a minority government and hinted at fresh elections.

Reports of Mrs. Merkel’s admission came on the same day reports claimed Mrs. May planned to double her previous offer to the European Union (EU) of roughly £20 billion to £40 billion.

Economic commitments in the region totalling roughly £20 billion are to be added to the £20 billion already acknowledged as owed in Mrs. May’s Florence speech.

A government source suggested that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Environment Secretary Michael Gove had signed up to the plan, despite previously opposing a large pay-out.

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