In this photo taken on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, a sign in a parking lot of a cemetery reads: "No EU border in Ireland" near Carrickcarnan, Ireland, just next to the Jonesborough Parish church in Northern Ireland. The land around the small town of Carrickcarnan, Ireland is the kind of place where Britain’s plan to leave the European Union walks right into a wall - an invisible one that is proving insanely difficult to overcome. Somehow, a border of sorts will have to be drawn between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and EU member country Ireland to allow customs control over goods, produce and livestock once the U.K. has left the bloc. (AP Photo/Lorne Cook)

The Latest: Merkel rejects Brexit deal 'at any price'

October 15, 2018 - 7:15 am

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

4:00 p.m.

Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany wants Britain's departure from the European Union on March 29 to be orderly, "but not at any price."

Merkel said Monday she had been hopeful the EU and the British government would reach a Brexit agreement, but "at the moment, it looks a bit more difficult again."

EU negotiators and leaders have said they won't accept Britain cherry-picking the best parts of EU membership and leaving the obligations or unresolved issues out of the withdrawal agreement and the country's future relations with the bloc. 

 Merkel said during a conference of German exporters: "We must not allow our single market, which is really our competitive advantage, to be destroyed by such a withdrawal."

She added: "So this requires a great deal of finesse. And if it doesn't work out this week, we must continue negotiating, that is clear — but time is pressing."  


12:40 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman says Brexit talks are stuck because the European Union "continues to insist on the possibility of a customs border down the Irish Sea."

James Slack says May cannot accept an EU proposal to keep Northern Ireland inside the bloc's customs union in order to avoid a hard border between it and EU member Ireland.

Britain says it will only accept that plan if it is temporary and does not hive Northern Ireland off permanently from the rest of the U.K. in terms of customs arrangements.

The border issue remains the chief obstacle to a divorce agreement. High-level talks on Sunday failed to produce a breakthrough.

Slack says the British government is still confident of striking a deal this fall, before Britain leaves the EU on March 29.

He says "continuous" negotiations are still going on ahead of an EU summit starting Wednesday.

May is due to update lawmakers on the talks later Monday.


11:25 a.m.

Ireland's foreign minister says that Britain has placed new conditions on the use of a mechanism to ensure that goods keep flowing across the Irish border after Brexit.

Simon Coveney says that Britain agreed in December and again in March that the unpopular "backstop" would remain in place until a better solution is found.

The backstop is a guarantee that would ensure no "hard border" of lengthy customs checks and controls would emerge between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland in the U.K.

Coveney said "nobody wants to ever trigger the backstop, but it needs to be there as an insurance mechanism to calm nerves that we're not going to see physical border infrastructure re-emerging."

Britain only wants it in place for a limited time, but Coveney said that "a backstop cannot be time limited. That's new. It hasn't been there before."


10:50 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a Brexit crisis, with her political allies insisting they will scuttle a divorce deal with the European Union over the issue of the Irish border.

The Democratic Unionist Party is opposed to any customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. after Britain leaves the European Union. But EU officials say that may be the only way to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said "it is probably inevitable that we will end up with a no-deal scenario" because there was no agreement that would be accepted by Britain's Parliament.

High-level talks in Brussels ended without agreement Sunday, and no more are planned before an EU summit starting Wednesday.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said Monday that "everyone needs to calm down" and support May as she tries to get a deal with the EU.


10:05 a.m.

Britain's foreign secretary is cautiously optimistic that the U.K. and the European Union will secure an agreement on Britain leaving the bloc although perhaps not at an EU summit this week.

Jeremy Hunt said Monday that "there are one or two very difficult outstanding issues, but I think we can get there. Whether we do this week or not, who knows?"

Hunt said at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg that "everyone is trying incredibly hard. I think it is possible to do it and I think with good will on both sides we can get there."

Britain officially leaves the EU on March 29, but a deal must be clinched in coming weeks to allow time for the EU and U.K. parliaments to ratify it.