German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, smiles as she arrives for her annual sommer press conference in Berlin, Germany, Friday, July 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

The Latest: Merkel: Britain will "find its way" on Brexit

July 19, 2019 - 3:51 am

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on Britain's impending departure from the European Union (all times local):

12:45 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she trusts that Britain will "find its way" on Brexit under a new prime minister, but isn't saying whether she advocates a further delay to its exit from the European Union or a new referendum.

Merkel said at her annual summer news conference Friday in Berlin that a declaration on future relations between Britain and the EU could be refined. But she indicated no readiness to budge on the basic divorce deal that the British Parliament has rejected three times, saying "the withdrawal agreement is the withdrawal agreement."

She also defended an arrangement intended to keep an open Irish border after Brexit, which both British leadership candidates want to ditch.

Asked whether she favors another British referendum on its EU membership, Merkel said she won't interfere. She added: "I trust very firmly that Britain will find its way. It is a proud, great nation and it will remain our partner even if Britain is no longer a member of the European Union."

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10 a.m.

British lawmakers were meeting with the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator, seeking an iron-clad guarantee that the 1.3 million U.K. citizens in the bloc won't have their rights removed and their lives disrupted if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.

The rights of U.K. citizens living in the 27 other EU nations, and of the more than 3 million EU citizens in Britain, are one of the thorniest issues of the Brexit negotiations.

Their rights to live, work and study are protected under an agreement struck between the two sides — but the divorce agreement has been rejected by Britain's Parliament, raising the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

The U.K. is due to leave the bloc on Oct. 31, and both men vying to take over as prime minister next week, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, say it's imperative that Brexit happens, with or without a deal.

Conservative lawmaker Alberto Costa, who is leading the cross-party delegation meeting EU negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels, said "If there's no agreement, there's no protection."

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Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and the Conservative Party leadership race at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

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