The Latest: US hopes Brexit talks can avoid economic turmoil

AP News
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Posted: Jan 17, 2017 2:50 PM
The Latest: US hopes Brexit talks can avoid economic turmoil

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on British Prime Minister Theresa May's speech on Brexit (all times local):

7:50 p.m.

The Obama administration says it hopes leaders of the U.K. and European Union will engage in a process that prevents "economic disruptions."

In his final daily press briefing Tuesday before the change in administrations, White House press secretary Josh Earnest called on these "critically important American allies" to engage with each other in a way "that's as transparent as possible, prevent any sort of economic disruptions, from misunderstandings or from surprises."

Earnest says a proposal by British Prime Minister Theresa May to have her country leave the single market is "certainly going to make these kinds of conversations more complicated." But he adds it's ultimately up to the British people who voted last June to leave the bloc.

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7:40 p.m.

The leader of Britain's right-wing U.K. Independence Party says he is "broadly impressed" by British Prime Minister Theresa May's speech on Brexit but added she isn't moving quickly enough toward exiting the country from the European Union.

Paul Nuttall, speaking to The Associated Press at the European Parliament in France's eastern city of Strasbourg, said Tuesday he was pleased with May's decision to "definitely" leave the single market, because this "was pretty much a red line for my party UKIP."

But the Euroskeptic politician said "our concern is ... what we are going to get is slow-motion Brexit." Nuttall insisted "what we want to see is a quick Brexit" that lets Britain sign trade deals across the globe.

May on Tuesday said Britain will make a clean break from the EU and leave its single market of around 500 million people in order to regain control of its borders and laws.

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7:15 p.m.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen of the National Front is lauding as "a courageous speech respecting the will of British people" the road that British Prime Minister Theresa May has set out for the negotiations to leave the European Union.

The candidate for the French presidential election next May told the Associated Press that "in France, we do not know this kind of respect."

British voters chose in June to leave the 28-nation bloc. Le Pen said the French government had shown no such respect in 2005 when French voters rejected a proposed EU constitution.

Le Pen praised May, saying being "a political leader who respects the will of people is, to me, totally respectable."

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7:10 p.m.

Spain's prime minister hopes the Brexit negotiations will mean a "minimal disruption" for the European Union — and once they are over, the bloc can focus "on the real problems" that affect citizens like health care, immigration, security and youth employment.

Speaking Tuesday to reporters at the end of a conference with the leaders of Spain's regional governments, Mariano Rajoy said "Europe is our past, present and future." He asked for British Prime Minister Theresa May's government to be clear about the model of relationship it seeks for the new U.K.-EU relations.

Rajoy says "we are ready to have an intense and good understanding in the future." He added that "all possibilities are open" as long as the four freedoms of movement —services, goods, capitals and people — are not negotiated separately with Britain.

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5:20 p.m.

A senior German lawmaker says Britain has to find a way to trade with the European Union even after it leaves the bloc.

Juergen Hardt, who speaks for Chancellor Angela Merkel's party on foreign policy matters, says he believes "the British government has no real alternative to the European common market, at least none that they can come up with overnight."

Hardt says U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's speech Tuesday, in which she declared Britain's intention to leave the EU's single market in goods and services, appeared to be an attempt "to retake the initiative and sovereignty over the Brexit process."

He told The Associated Press that "whether or not the plan will work, for Britain to remain as politically and economically powerful despite a relatively hard exit from the European Union as it was inside the European Union, remains to be seen."

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5:15 p.m.

Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says he's surprised that the British government is pursuing a strategy that will see the country leave the European Union's single market.

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, Stiglitz said "political wisdom" pointed to the government trying to "soften" Brexit and to "achieve the softest version."

He said he's a "little surprised" by the path outlined by Prime Minister Theresa May earlier "because it's so clear that so many people in the U.K. really didn't want a Brexit at all, let alone a hard Brexit." In last June's referendum, 48 percent backed Britain remaining within the EU.

Stiglitz, who is a professor at Columbia University, said there are echoes in the Brexit strategy being pursued to what's going on in the U.S.

Donald Trump, Stiglitz said, didn't even get a majority of the popular vote in last November's presidential election, "yet is acting as if he had a mandate."

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3:40 p.m.

European Union President Donald Tusk has called British Prime Minister Theresa May's speech on Brexit "at least a more realistic announcement" than the months of waffling and unclear messages that have come after Britain's June 23 vote to leave the bloc.

Tusk called the divorce proceedings between Britain and the EU a "sad process, surrealistic times" in a Twitter posting Tuesday. And he insisted that the 27 other EU nations will be "united and ready to negotiate" when May triggers the Brexit talks at the end of March.

May on Tuesday said Britain will make a clean break from the EU and leave its single market of around 500 million people in order to regain control of its borders and laws.

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2 p.m.

Anthony Scaramucci, who is set to join the Donald Trump administration when it takes power on Friday, says a trade deal between the United States and Britain can be forged much quicker than the time it usually takes for trade deals.

Asked by The Associated Press at the World Economic Forum whether a deal can be negotiated in time for Britain's exit from the European Union, which is expected sometime in the spring of 2019, Scaramucci says it would be wrong to "take the typical political rubric that you've seen and map that out."

Trump, he says is a "hard charger" and has got a group of people around him that are "very result-oriented."

Trade deals have traditionally taken years to cobble together, because of diverging interests.

Scaramucci also says that Trump's message for the EU to stay together following last year's Brexit vote is "don't command top-down from Brussels what should be going on in Manchester or Rome."

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1:50 p.m.

Prime Minister Theresa May's speech outlining Britain's exit strategy from the European Union has been criticized by opposition figures.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said that May appeared to want to have her cake and eat it when she said she wanted to leave the European single market but still have access to it.

Corbyn told the BBC that "I'm not quite sure how that is going to go down in Europe."

Tim Farron, who leads the opposition Liberal Democrats, said that May was proposing an "extreme version" of Brexit that would damage Britain's economy.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said that although businesses now have a clearer sense of May's priorities, they still know "little more about the likely outcome of the Brexit negotiations than they did yesterday."

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1:15 p.m.

Germany's foreign minister has welcomed a speech by British Prime Minister Theresa May laying out her plans for the U.K.'s departure from the European Union.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the speech has "created a little bit more clarity about the British plans" and noted May's willingness to engage in a constructive and positive partnership with the EU.

Steinmeier said in a statement Tuesday that the other 27 countries, too, want "good, close and trusting relations" with Britain and will aim for constructive negotiations.

But he insisted that talks about the so-called Brexit won't begin until London has formally notified the EU of its wish to leave the bloc.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet with her ministers for the first time Wednesday to discuss Germany's position on Brexit.

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1 p.m.

Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain's Parliament will be able to vote on the final divorce deal reached between the U.K. and European Union.

May confirmed that her government will put the final agreement to a vote in both houses of Parliament before it comes into force.

However, she did not address what would happen should there be a vote against the agreement.

May has said she will trigger the formal process to leave the trade bloc by the end of March. The Supreme Court is expected later this month to rule on whether Parliament must have a say in the matter.

Britain will have two years to negotiate a deal after that.

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12:40 p.m.

Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain will ensure control of immigration from Europe as it exits the EU — though she pledged to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K. as soon as possible.

May said that while Britain remains an open and tolerant country and wants to continue attracting the best talent, immigration has put pressure on public services like schools and health care.

May says that Brexit must mean controlling the number of Europeans arriving from Britain. She vowed to guarantee the rights of Europeans already living and working in Britain — as well as those of Britons living in Europe. But she didn't provide details on either of those points.

Questioned on what Britain's future immigration policy would look like, May said details had yet to be worked out.

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12:20 p.m.

Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain will leave the EU's single market — but will "seek greatest possible access to it" — as it exits the trade bloc.

May says her plans for Brexit cannot allow the U.K. to remain in the single market of the bloc because that would mean "not leaving the EU at all."

May said she wanted Britain to be part of a customs union agreement with the other EU states, and remove as many trade barriers as possible. She did not provide details, but said she had an "open mind" on how to do it.

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12:15 p.m.

The pound is rallying on British Prime Minister Theresa May's focus on keeping Britain open to global trade.

Though her speech Tuesday indicates that Britain will leave the European Union's single market, she stressed her government's desire to make the country open to new trade opportunities in the global economy.

May added that Britain will seek a free trade deal with the EU after leaving it. Such deals, however, typically take years to negotiate.

The pound, which has been recovering Tuesday from steep losses earlier in the week, rallied to trade 1.9 percent higher at $1.2271. On Monday, it was as low as $1.20, the weakest level since October and near a 31-year low.

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12:05 p.m.

Prime Minister Theresa May says that Britain plans to make a clean break from the European Union and not opt for "anything that leaves us half-in, half-out."

In a major speech Tuesday, May said Britain won't "hold on to bits of membership," nor seek associate or partial membership of the bloc.

She says Britain will forge a "new and equal partnership" with Europe.

Britons voted to leave the EU in a referendum in June.

Setting out her vision for Britain, May said she wanted her country to emerge "stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than before."

She also said that Britain's parliament will get to vote on a final Brexit deal.

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11:15 a.m.

Anthony Scaramucci, who is part of President-elect Donald Trump's transition team, says global elites have to get out of their comfort zones and listen to the people if they don't understand how Trump was elected or why Britain voted to leave the European Union.

At a panel at the World Economic Forum, financier Scaramucci said the richest top 3 percent of the world benefited from the massive stimulus measures enacted by global central banks since the financial crisis and are basically back to where they were in 2007. The remaining people, he said, are "struggling."

To those among the global elites who don't understand that post-crisis phenomenon, Scaramucci had a message: "Go to the prairie lands of the United States, or perhaps places in Great Britain or places in Europe. You know the places. Listen to the people. We have to as a collective group of people come up with the right policies."

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10:25 a.m.

The chairman and CEO of Bank of America says major companies like his need clear rules before deciding how much business to maintain in Britain after it quits the European Union.

Brian Moynihan and other top bankers and executives gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos are eagerly awaiting details about the U.K. exit plans from British Prime Minister Theresa May in a speech Tuesday.

Moynihan, speaking to The Associated Press, said Bank of America is working on "all kinds of scenarios" to possibly shift activities out of London after the so-called Brexit, but insisted "it's still not clear what that would do, or wouldn't do."

He said: "It's still premature to say what anybody's going to do until you have one set of rules. London will be an important part of our company no matter what happens with the British economy."

Noting a mass sense of "dislocation" in the British and U.S. electorate because of fast technological change, he said, "The No. 1 job for the leader of any enterprise, whether civil political or business, is to be responsive to the people they serve."

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9:05 a.m.

Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing to make a speech that will signal that Britain will make a clean break from the European Union and not seek to remain "half-in, half-out."

In her most detailed address on the U.K.'s exit strategy, May will say that Britain doesn't want "partial membership of the European Union" or "to hold on to bits of membership as we leave."

Advance excerpts suggest May's speech will disappoint businesses and voters who want the country to stay in the bloc's single market.

It's likely to be another shock for the pound, which hit a three-month low below $1.20 Monday. It traded slightly above that level early Tuesday.

Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, said he was "expecting a wild ride for the pound today."