Senior figures in the Christian Social Union (CSU) fear the negotiations are “going badly” due to EU intransigence and unreasonable demands for a financial settlement of up to £90 billion.
In a powerful editorial the party’s official magazine, the Bayernkurier, calls on the beleaguered Chancellor to intervene in Brussels and steer the process towards “real negotiations”.
It warns that is she does not Germany has “much to lose” as the result of a financial “shock”, particularly to its prized car industry, that would inevitably ensue from a no deal Brexit.
The CSU operates exclusively in Bavaria – a region home to manufacturing giants including Audi, BMW and Bauer – and is the sister party to Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Bavaria is the largest state in Germany, accounting for a fifth of the country’s massive £45 billion trade surplus with Britain last year, and is one of Europe’s biggest economies in its own right.
But in an article for the Bayernkurier, titled ‘Brexit – Germany’s Risk’, foreign editor Heinrich Maetzke warns that status could be under threat if eurocrats are allowed to botch the negotiations.
In particular he accuses Brussels of seeking unreasonably tough conditions over the divorce bill and the future of Norther Ireland that “no British voter could ever accept”.
And he calls for more “flexibility and creativity” from the European side in the negotiations, echoing pleas from British officials, saying the UK’s demands are “not as confused as Brussels likes to pretend”.
He writes: “Brussels demands from London a payment worth at least six full annual net contributions to the budget and a customs border between England and Northern Ireland. This cannot go well.
“Brussels thinks it is in the right. But it is also completely clear no British government and no British voter could ever accept this. The British negotiating position is not as confused as Brussels likes to pretend.
“As a reminder, every fifth car produced in Germany is registered in the UK even economic welfare child France scores a small trade surplus compared to the British.
“Great Britain is Europe’s second largest economy after Germany and the third largest market after France. As a reminder, every fifth car produced in Germany is registered in the UK.”
Mr Maetzke praises Theresa May’s proposal for a transition on membership terms and says Britain should be kept as close to the EU as economically possible until a trade deal is signed off.
And he says that while EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier “blames the Brits” for the lack of progress in the negotiations “it’s not that easy” with the European side also largely at fault.
In particular he describes proposals that Northern Ireland stays in the Single Market and Customs Union as “strange” and asks: “Will anyone in Brussels really want to ask someone to put up barbed wire fence and wall at the Irish border?”
And he warns: “Germany has a lot to lose from Brexit…because the Brexit negotiations are going badly. Then the very tough Brexit threatens – for Germany’s export industry that would be a shock.
“Berlin should become more active now, and urge Brussels to show more flexibility and creativity in the negotiations. The British market and Germany’s and the EU’s exporting economies are at stake.”
Leopold Traugott, a policy analyst for the Open Europe think tank, said that whilst the article will provide UK negotiators with encouragement it does not yet represent mainstream thinking in Germany.
He said: “The UK government should not get carried away by such articles. They are currently few and far between in the German press, and the CSU has always been the German political party most inclined to sympathise with British frustrations with Brussels.
“Nevertheless, it serves as a reminder that Germany’s political establishment is not universally happy with the way Brexit negotiations are currently being handled by the European Commission.
“Yes, German industry and politicians are determined to protect the integrity of the Single Market on which Germany’s economic and foreign policy is built, but, at the same time, there are many that also see the economic and political damage a ‘no deal’ Brexit would do to a relationship with an important partner.”