The Latest: France: Brexit backstop not a ’2-headed monster’

General By: The Bullet Wire 9:01 am

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Brexit (all times local):

4:55 p.m.

France’s Europe minister says she’s ready but still waiting for alternative British proposals for its divorce agreement with the EU.

Secretary of state for European affairs Amelie de Montchalin said Tuesday the French government is focused instead on preparing for Britain to crash out of the trading bloc Oct. 31 without any plan for the future.

Just as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his Parliament that “alternative solutions” to the divorce deal are on the table, de Montchalin told reporters in Paris that she has received “no packet of documents” outlining them.

She wouldn’t comment on rising British political tensions over Brexit.

She accused British politicians of over-dramatizing the so-called backstop designed to avoid a new border between the EU’s Ireland and U.K.’s Northern Ireland. She said “the backstop is not a two-headed monster,” and “we are totally open to what the British propose.”

French government ministers met Tuesday with business leaders to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

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4:20 p.m.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says he has not seen any new British proposals to break the Brexit deadlock.

Speaking Tuesday after meeting with his Greek counterpart, Rutte said he spoke to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson a week ago and has had no news since then.

Rutte says the so-called Irish backstop that is intended to prevent a return of border checks between Northern Ireland and EU member state Ireland was included in the Brexit deal because of British concerns.

He says “it’s up to the British to come up with proposals and Johnson assured me — and I trust him — that they will come to Brussels with concrete proposals by which they think they can solve the problem and I’ve said we are always open for proposals, but they have to come.”

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4:15 p.m.

Britain’s opposition leader has attacked Prime Minister Boris Johnson for trying to run a “cabal” from Downing Street in order to take Britain out of the European Union without a deal despite the costs.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said Tuesday that “this is a government with no mandate, no morals, and, as of today, no majority.”

He spoke minutes after Johnson’s Conservative Party lost its working majority in Parliament with the defection of one legislator.

Corbyn is playing a central role in a parliamentary bid to seize control of the agenda and pass legislation that would force Johnson to seek a delay to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline.

Johnson is expected to call an early general election if he is ordered by Parliament to delay Brexit again.

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4 p.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lost his working majority after a Conservative Party lawmaker defected to another party amid the Brexit crisis.

Phillip Lee left the Conservatives to join the Liberal Democrats, which opposes Brexit and wants to remain in the European Union.

Lee said he is leaving because “this Conservative Government is aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways.”

His decision will weaken Johnson as he tries to prevent Parliament from blocking his Brexit plans. 

Rebels within Johnson’s own party are threatening to force the government to seek a further extension of the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline.

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3 p.m.

A cross-party group of lawmakers is arguing in a Scottish court that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament for part of the period before the Brexit deadline should be overturned.

The group’s lawyers said in the Court of Session Tuesday that Johnson’s government was considering the tactic in mid-August, well before it was announced to the public.

Lawyer Aiden O’Neill accused Johnson of trying to set up an “autocracy” and “one-man rule.” He said the prime minister often does not tell the public the truth.

Government lawyers are arguing that the decision to suspend Parliament is not up to the courts.

The case in Scotland’s highest civil court is one of three ongoing legal battles against Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament.

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12:20 p.m.

Former U.K. leader John Major and three other parties have been given permission to join a suit being heard by London’s High Court challenging Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s actions that led to the suspension of Parliament.

Transparency campaigner Miller, who won a ruling in the Supreme Court in 2017 that stopped the government from triggering the countdown to Brexit without a vote in Parliament, is spearheading a legal action challenging Johnson’s suspension maneuver.

The High Court will hear Miller’s case Thursday. Major was granted permission to intervene in writing.

Scottish Lord Advocate James Wolffe, Scotland’s senior law officer, the Welsh Government and Shami Chakrabarti, Labour’s spokeswoman on legal issues, have also been given permission to intervene in writing.

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12:10 p.m.

The European Union says it has received no proposals from the British government aimed at overcoming the impasse in Brexit talks.

European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said Tuesday that “I can’t report any concrete proposals having been made that we have seen.”

Andreeva says the EU’s executive body, which supervises Brexit negotiations on behalf of Britain’s 27 European partners, is operating on the “working assumption” that Britain will leave the bloc on Oct. 31.

She notes that “there is a very distinct possibility” of Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal.

Andreeva says “we continue to believe that the best outcome would be a Brexit on the basis of the negotiated withdrawal agreement.”

U.K. and EU officials are set to hold technical level talks later this week to see what progress can be made.

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10 a.m.

Mounting concern among international investors about Brexit has pushed the pound to its lowest level since a “flash crash” it endured in October 2016, when uncertainty after the Brexit vote was particularly high.

The currency fell as low as $1.1960 on Tuesday, down about a cent on the day before stabilizing around $1.1990. Not counting the brief slide in the autumn of 2016, in which the currency fell around 6% in a matter of minutes before recovering, the pound is now at its lowest level since 1985.

Brexit is facing a crucial few days as lawmakers challenge Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s insistence that the U.K. will leave the European Union on Oct. 31 even without a deal.

Parliament is returning from its summer recess Tuesday with a key piece of legislation on its agenda that would prevent an immediate no-deal exit. If it passes, Johnson’s Downing Street office says he’ll call an early election, with uncertain consequences.

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8:50 a.m.

Opposition parties are challenging Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s insistence that the U.K. will leave the European Union on Oct. 31 even without a deal, setting up a pivotal day in British politics.

Parliament is returning from its summer recess Tuesday with a key piece of legislation on its agenda that would prevent an immediate no-deal exit. If it passes, Johnson’s Downing Street office says he’ll call an early election.

A no-deal Brexit is considered dangerous because it will sever decades of seamless trade with the single market of 500 million, but Johnson insists the potential for leaving without a deal must remain as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the EU.

The bloc is adamant it will not renegotiate the agreement struck with former Prime Minister Theresa May, which Johnson considers unacceptable.

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Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit and British politics at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

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