The Latest: UK's May set to head to Brussels on Thursday


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

4:30 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has told business leaders in Northern Ireland that she is seeking changes to the Brexit withdrawal agreement but not the total removal of the backstop plan that is the most contentious part of the deal.

May said during a visit to Belfast Tuesday that the British government retains its “unshakeable” commitment to preventing the construction of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland when Britain leaves the European Union.

Britain is scheduled to leave the bloc on March 29, but no withdrawal agreement has been approved because Britain’s Parliament has voted down May’s plan.

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She will return to Parliament next week seeking approval of what is expected to be a modified plan.

May plans to meet with EU leaders Thursday seeking concessions.


2:05 p.m.

Sweden’s third largest party — the nationalist and populist Sweden Democrats party— is toning down its call that the country to leave the European Union.

Instead, the party which has neo-Nazi roots says it wants to work with like-minded parties from across the EU to change “the supranational union.”

During last year’s general election, party leader Jimmie Akesson said he would push for a referendum on leaving the EU, which Sweden joined in 1995 and which he has described as “a web of corruption.”

Speaking on Sweden’s public radio Tuesday, Akesson said the difficulties Britain is having leaving the EU showed “clearly that the EU does its utmost to complicate Britain’s departure.”

Akesson said, “it would be irresponsible for Sweden to leave before knowing how it goes with Britain.”

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Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29.


2 p.m.

Britain’s security minister has dismissed claims that Brexit could bring the return of a hard border and heighten the risk of violence on the island of Ireland.

Ben Wallace says “there will not be an increased security threat, whatever happens.”

A divorce deal between Britain and the European Union is in danger because U.K lawmakers have rejected a section of the agreement intended to ensure there is no hard border between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

There are fears that border infrastructure could raise tensions along a border that was a militarized zone during Northern Ireland’s decades of violence.

But Wallace said a solution would be found and accused politicians on both sides of the Brexit debate of spouting “hot air” on the border matter.

Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29.


11:50 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to travel to Brussels on Thursday to discuss the stalled Brexit deal with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

EU Commission spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, said the meeting will come a day after Juncker discusses a controversial Irish border provision within the previously agreed Brexit deal with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

The so-called Irish backstop is designed to keep an open border between the United Kingdom’s Northern Ireland and EU member state Ireland.

Many U.K. lawmakers, particularly in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party, say it could keep Britain tied to the EU for too long, even indefinitely. They joined with opposition parties to inflict a heavy defeat on the deal that May agreed with the EU last month. May has been seeking unspecified “alternative arrangements” in order to restart the Brexit talks.

May’s visit had been expected this week but a day had not been announced.

Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29.


9:50 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is traveling to Northern Ireland seeking support for her stalled withdrawal plan from the European Union.

May plans to speak to business leaders Tuesday and will also meet with Democratic Unionist Party chief Arlene Foster.

The prime minister hopes to win political support for a solution to the vexed question of how Britain can leave the European Union next month without the need for a hard border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

A backstop agreement set out in the withdrawal plan is unacceptable to many British lawmakers, including Foster, who calls it toxic.

The issue threatens to torpedo hopes of an orderly Brexit.

May is seeking substantial changes to the plan she agreed with the EU.


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