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The Latest: EU official warns on UK divorce bill

July 26, 2019
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, leaves after a meeting of the German Federal Parliament in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, leaves after a meeting of the German Federal Parliament in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Britain’s scheduled departure from the European Union (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

The European Union’s budget commissioner is warning that a failure by Britain to pay its divorce bill as it leaves the bloc would threaten the country’s credit status.

Britain’s new prime minister, Boris Johnson, took office this week, vowing to take Britain out of the EU by Oct. 31 with or without a deal. He has threatened to withhold a payment of 39 billion pounds ($49 billion) as part of a Brexit divorce bill that predecessor Theresa May agreed to if there is no deal. Opponents say the money covers commitments the U.K. made while a member of the bloc, and must be paid in any event.

EU Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger was quoted Friday as telling the German daily Tagesspiegel that if those comments were translated into action, “then this would threaten the credit standing of the United Kingdom.”

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2:00 p.m.

The German government says Chancellor Angela Merkel has discussed Brexit and bilateral relations with new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Merkel’s office gave few details of Friday’s phone conversation between the two leaders. It said that Merkel wished Johnson luck in his new job and invited him to visit Berlin soon. It didn’t give a date.

Johnson has replaced much of predecessor Theresa May’s Cabinet with loyal Brexit supporters and has pledged to take Britain out of the European Union by Oct. 31, with or without a deal.

Merkel, like other EU leaders, has insisted that the withdrawal agreement British lawmakers rejected three times when May was prime minister won’t be renegotiated. Johnson insists that it must be renegotiated.

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1:20 p.m.

A British car industry group has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to avoid leaving the European Union without a deal, warning it would present an “existential threat” to the sector.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders wrote the newly installed leader to underscore the importance of the 18.6-billion-pound industry. The letter says a no-deal Brexit “would result in huge tariff costs and disruption that would threaten production.”

Less than 100 days before Britain’s scheduled withdrawal date, the government doesn’t have an approved agreement on the terms that will replace the 45 years of frictionless trade that came with being an EU member. Johnson has threated to take the country out of the 28-nation-trading bloc without a deal.

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