The Latest: German FM hopes Johnson wants 'sensible' ties

AP News
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Posted: Jul 14, 2016 4:17 PM
The Latest: German FM hopes Johnson wants 'sensible' ties

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on British political developments (all times local):

9:15 p.m.

Germany's foreign minister says he hopes new British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will want to maintain a "sensible relationship" with the European Union.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier has previously criticized Johnson and other leading backers of Britain's exit from the EU.

Steinmeier told ZDF television Thursday evening: "Boris Johnson is a shrewd politician, experienced enough — he knows that he faces different tasks now."

He added: "I hope he understands his job in such a way that Britain will maintain a sensible relationship with the European Union and also with Germany."

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5:50 p.m.

President Barack Obama has called new British Prime Minister Theresa May to congratulate her.

The White House says he told May on Thursday that the U.S. was committed to deepening the U.S. relationship with the U.K. Obama told her he looks forward to working with her during his final six months in office.

The White House is pushing back on suggestions that her selection of Boris Johnson as foreign minister will be problematic for the U.S. Johnson had previously described Obama as a "part-Kenyan" who had an "ancestral dislike of the British empire."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama isn't seeking an apology from Johnson. He says Obama is confident the U.S. will keep working to strengthen relations "irrespective of specific personalities."

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2:25 p.m.

France's foreign minister has branded his British counterpart, incoming Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a liar.

Jean-Marc Ayrault gave an unusually frank interview with the popular Europe-1 radio network Thursday following the news that Johnson will hold the top diplomatic post in new British Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet.

Ayrault said people had seen what his style was like during the referendum campaign, adding that Johnson "lied a lot to the British."

Ayrault also predicted that Johnson has an uphill struggle ahead of him remarking that "now it's him with his back against the wall to defend his country and to clarify his relationship with Europe."

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1 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called Britain's new foreign secretary, former London Mayor Boris Johnson, to congratulate him on his new job and urge "a sensible and measured approach" to Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.

In a Thursday phone call from Paris, Kerry and Johnson "agreed that the U.S.-U.K. special relationship is as essential as ever" and pledged to work together as NATO allies in facing challenges.

The State Department said Kerry told Johnson that the U.S. would stay engaged with Britain as it moves ahead in the process of leaving the 28-nation bloc, and the two men agreed to meet next week in Brussels.

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12:35 p.m.

Germany's finance minister is signaling a willingness to forget past statements by Boris Johnson, Britain's new foreign secretary.

Ahead of last month's referendum on European Union membership, Johnson compared the bloc's aims with those of Adolf Hitler. Asked what he expected of working with Johnson, given such comments, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said — to laughter — "you see that it's an advantage not to have such a great command of the English language."

He added Thursday: "We in Germany have had good experience with putting comments made during a campaign into the file for election campaigns, and forgetting them on the day after the democratic decision has been made. So I don't know what you're talking about."

Schaeuble is influential in Germany's government and in Chancellor Angela Merkel's party.

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12:15 p.m.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says he would like negotiations on Britain's exit from the European Union to produce a "highly integrated relationship between the U.K. and the EU."

Lew spoke Thursday after meeting German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble on a tour of several European countries.

He said it's "critical that negotiations take place in a pragmatic and transparent and smooth manner, where both sides demonstrate flexibility in order to produce results that are the right outcome, that have mutually acceptable and ... amicable outcomes."

Lew added said he has been "encouraged that there have been very pragmatic views expressed" in his meetings in Europe.

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12 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May continues to fill out her government, appointing women to two top jobs.

Downing Street says Liz Truss has been named justice secretary and lord chancellor — the top official in the judicial system. She is Britain's first female lord chancellor.

Justine Greening, formerly in charge of international development, is now education secretary and minister for women and equalities.

May, Britain's second female prime minister, is undertaking a sweeping Cabinet shuffle on her first full day in office. Several senior figures in the former government of David Cameron have been fired as May puts her stamp on the government.

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11:45 a.m.

Germany's foreign minister says Boris Johnson's appointment as his British counterpart shows that the new government is serious about leaving the European Union. He says Prime Minister Theresa May should kick off exit talks "as soon as possible."

Frank-Walter Steinmeier made clear in comments to the Bild am Sonntag newspaper published Thursday that Johnson must now adjust to new demands.

He was quoted as saying: "Boris Johnson is a crafty party politician who managed to use the euroskeptic mood for himself. But completely different political tasks now stand at the forefront: this is about taking foreign policy responsibility beyond Brexit."

Steinmeier said that "Britain remains an important partner" with which Germany must work at the U.N., NATO, in the Group of Seven and in efforts to end Syria's civil war.

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11:30 a.m.

Germany's finance minister says Britain will need time to work out what relationship it wants with the European Union but it would be good to have clarity quickly.

Britain hasn't yet formally triggered talks on exiting the EU and it's unclear when it will do so. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Thursday: "We must let Her Majesty's new government have a bit of time to make the necessary decisions."

But he said that "it's also important to point out that the quicker we succeed in creating clarity, the better it is to limit possible risks."

Schaeuble spoke after meeting U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, who said he will meet new British counterpart Philip Hammond in London later Thursday.

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11 a.m.

New British Prime Minister Theresa May is clearing rivals from government as she assembles her new Cabinet team.

May has fired Justice Secretary Michael Gove, a former leader of the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union.

Gove led the "leave" side alongside former London Mayor Boris Johnson, then betrayed him by making a bid for Conservative leadership — a job Johnson had long sought.

May won the leadership battle and quickly sacked Gove, who is now seen as treacherous by many Conservatives. She rewarded Johnson with the plum job of foreign secretary.

She has also fired Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who backed Gove's short-lived leadership campaign.

May is expected to name a raft of new ministers on Thursday.

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9:25 a.m.

The foreign policy spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party in Parliament says many British suggestions on the country's future relationship with the European Union are "unworkable."

Juergen Hardt said in a statement Thursday that, for example, "free access to the common market means, among other things, accepting other fundamental freedoms such as the freedom of movement" between European countries.

He says it's clear the "upcoming negotiations will not be easy" but said it's "the responsibility of both sides to make the process of Britain's withdrawal as smooth as possible."

Still, Hardt suggests: "Britain remaining in the EU should also be an option for the new government — it would be better for Great Britain and the rest of the EU."

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8:30 a.m.

Britain's new Treasury chief says there will be no emergency budget — even though there are questions marks hanging over the economy following the country's decision to leave the European Union.

Philip Hammond says he will meet with the head of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, on Thursday to "assess where we are."

Hammond was one of Prime Minister Theresa May's first appointments, and one of his immediate tasks was to take to the airwaves in hopes of offering calming tones of reassurance to the markets and the general public about the economy.

Hammond told ITV that while there is no plan for an emergency budget, "the markets do need signals of reassurance, they need to know we will do whatever is necessary to keep the economy on track."