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The Latest: UK minister: Brexit uncertainty unacceptable

February 19, 2019
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In this Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 photo European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, prepares to shake hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May, left, before their meeting at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says he can't rule out that a delayed Brexit could mean the United Kingdom would participate in this spring's European Parliament election. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, file)

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on the Brexit negotiations (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

Britain’s business secretary says the Brexit-related uncertainty facing U.K. businesses is “unacceptable.”

Greg Clark told a manufacturers’ organization Tuesday that the precarious situation “needs to be brought to a conclusion.”

The U.K. is set to leave the European Union on March 29 but has yet to seal a deal laying out divorce terms and future trade rules. The uncertainty has already led many firms to shift some operations abroad, stockpile goods or defer investment decisions.

Parliament blocked a divorce deal last month, and remains deadlocked.

Clark, a leading pro-EU voice in Cabinet, said businesses could not wait until “the last minute on March 28” for certainty.

He said “decisions like Honda’s this morning demonstrates starkly how much is at stake.”

The Japanese automaker plans to close its only U.K. plant in 2021, though it says the decision is not directly related to Brexit.

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12:25 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker late Wednesday for a latest attempt to find a breakthrough in the stalled Brexit negotiations.

EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas made the announcement Tuesday as the slated March 29 departure date for the United Kingdom to leave the EU draws ever closer.

May has vowed that she will deliver the U.K. departure from the EU on time, but successive attempts to find a solution have been fruitless. She met with Juncker also earlier this month.

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9:15 a.m.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says he can’t rule out that a delayed Brexit could mean the United Kingdom would participate in this spring’s European Parliament election.

However, Juncker told German daily Stuttgarter Zeitung in an interview published Tuesday that such a scenario was “difficult to imagine,” saying it would be a “belated joke of history.”

Britain is scheduled to withdraw from the European Union on March 29, but the U.K. government is trying to revisit a divorce deal agreed with the EU last year. Brussels is refusing to budge.

Juncker told the Stuttgarter Zeitung it’s up to Britain to decide whether it wants to request a delay to the Brexit date, but that it should happen before the newly elected European Parliament gathers in July.

The election takes place May 23-26.

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This version corrects that the newly elected European Parliament is to gather in July, not June.