Photos: Bloomberg, Getty, Photo illustration: Tom Hall/Bloomberg

Balance of Power: Brexit Plotting

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Angela Merkel and Europe's other leaders are getting ready to show Theresa May what a united front looks like.

Their goal: to force Britain to accept a Brexit deal so tough that no country will ever again dream of leaving the European Union.

European chiefs meet in Brussels tomorrow to agree on their negotiating positions before months of what are sure to be gruelling talks. Drafts obtained by Bloomberg show the EU will demand that Britain pay an exit bill, which officials say could total €60 billion ($65 billion). And they will rule out the comprehensive trade deal that May is looking for unless she agrees to continued oversight of banks by EU regulators and courts.

Merkel set the tone with a hard-line speech to the German parliament yesterday and a poll today showed that only 14 percent of her voters want to make concessions to Britain. 

For May, the problem is that European leaders seem more united than ever before as they try to safeguard the future of their post-war political project.

Theresa May, U.K. prime minister, left, listens as Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, speaks during a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Merkel, who hosted May in Berlin on Wednesday during her first overseas trip as prime minister, said that EU rules stipulate a country must invoke Article 50 to start the process of leaving the 28-nation bloc. Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg
Theresa May, U.K. prime minister, left, listens as Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, speaks during a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin on July 20, 2016. Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Global Headlines

Trump keeps Asia on edge | The U.S. president told Reuters that a “major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible even though his preference is for a diplomatic solution. Trump even signaled some grudging respect for Kim Jong Un: “He’s 27 years old. His father dies, took over a regime. So say what you want but that is not easy, especially at that age.”

Iranian presidential debate | Six candidates square off in a televised debate tonight before the May 19 election. President Hassan Rouhani's rivals will try to blame him for failing to boost living standards despite the nuclear deal with world powers. All eyes will be on Ebrahim Raisi, who has said little about what he stands for. The conservative cleric is widely seen as having the Supreme Leader's backing and as such a head start to win the race.

U.S. to cut 9% of State Department workforce | Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is pressing ahead with his task of slashing the agency’s budget, Bloomberg's Nick Wadhams reports. The State Department plans to cut 2,300 diplomats and civil servants, possibly over two years, according to people familiar with the situation.

Another false start for repealing Obamacare | House Republican leaders once again had to scrap plans to vote on legislation to repeal and replace the 2010 health-care law, despite intense pressure from the White House to deliver on a long-promised effort ahead of Trump's 100th day in office tomorrow. A vote had been tentatively planned for Saturday.

Trump's first GDP number | Economists are expecting a weak reading when first-quarter data comes in today, with the consensus pointing to annualized growth of 1 percent. While experts say the economy is probably in better shape than that, the report will highlight the challenge facing Trump as he tries to fulfill his campaign promise to light a fire under the economy and achieve growth rates of 3 percent to 4 percent.

Merkel talks tough on migrants | The German chancellor is talking tough on migrants and crime as she campaigns for two regional votes next month that will gauge public sentiment before September's federal election. She's betting that voters will see beyond last year's refugee crisis to give her a fourth term as polls show her party holding a small lead over the main opposition.

And finally... Emmanuel Macron is a turn-off for young voters. He's a star student, banker and presidential front-runner at 39. So not surprisingly, young people are struggling to relate to him, with only 18 percent of those under 25 backing him in the first round. Even if he wins next week's runoff, he won't be swept into power by a generation whose bleak job prospects have left them disenchanted with mainstream politics.

-- With assistance from Kathleen Hunter.

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