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Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Latest: Bluster, face-saving, delays as EU, UK seek deal

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on talks on a deal for Britain at the European Union summit (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

Bluster, face-saving, a long-delayed English breakfast — so far that sums up the high-stakes European Union meetings focused on Britain’s future.

EU leaders first hoped to make progress after dinner Thursday. When that failed, they scheduled a breakfast Friday, then rescheduled for lunch, then aimed for late afternoon. As teatime approached, presidents, prime ministers and translators still were shuttling in and out of corridors at the summit — but the final leaders’ meeting still hadn’t happened.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is pressing his resistant European partners for an EU reform deal he can take back to British voters.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite was blunt about the “drama” of the negotiations and the possible futility of the whole exercise. She says Friday in Brussels: “We would like Britain in Europe and we would like to help British people make a decision. But no matter what we do here, no matter what face-lifting or face-saving we perform here, it is up to the British people to decide.”

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2:55 p.m.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel says all the efforts going into the EU reform negotiations will be for naught if the British people vote to leave the European Union in a referendum.

Michel insisted no other member nation should be able to use a possible reform deal Friday as a stepping stone for getting more national exemptions.

“My message is clear: if the British say no in the referendum the text will automatically evaporate. We cannot allow other nations to use the texts as a basis to relaunch a hostile action against Europe,” he said.

Michel added: “There are no second chances.”

“Let’s be clear it is not possible to have such a show again in the coming months or years with a permanent doubt hovering over Europe.”

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12:25 a.m.

Virgin Group’s Richard Branson has stressed that Britain’s exit from the European Union would be damaging to the country, predicting that such an action would ultimately lead to the breakup of the 28-nation bloc.

Branson told Sky News that he thought it would be a “very, very, very, very sad day if British people voted to leave.” Branson noted that Europe has been free from war since the introduction of EU, and that he hoped “sense prevails.”

Branson’s remarks came as Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron pressed for concessions in talks Friday on reforming Britain’s membership in the EU and making the bloc less intrusive.

EU membership has given the U.K. access to the massive European market. However, popular distrust of the EU has grown in Britain, particularly because of struggles over immigration.

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11:25 a.m.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has arrived for more EU talks saying he’ll do everything he can to secure a deal on the U.K.’s relationship with the bloc.

Cameron met other leaders until after 5 a.m. Friday. Returning a few hours later, he said that “we’ve made some progress, but there’s still no deal.”

“We’re going to get back in there, we’re going to do some more work and I’ll do everything I can,” Cameron said.

The 28 EU leaders hope to cement an agreement Friday, but have yet to iron out differences on issues ranging from welfare benefits to financial regulation.

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10:40 a.m.

French President Francois Hollande is insisting that new European Union rules for Britain should maintain strict financial regulation.

France is putting up tougher-than-expected resistance to British Prime Minister David Cameron’s push for EU reform ahead of a British referendum on whether to stay in the 28-nation union.

Arriving for the second and final day of an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, Hollande said there is still work to be done before reaching a deal with Britain despite talks that stretched nearly until dawn.

He insisted that Britain should not be given any “right of veto or blockage” and that all EU countries should have rules limiting speculation and avoiding new financial crises.

Countries like France that share the euro currency worry that protections for Britain and other non-eurozone nations would offer unfair advantage to Britain’s financial center, the City of London.

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8:45 a.m.

British Prime Minister David Cameron faces tough new talks with European partners after through-the-night meetings failed to make much progress on his demands for a less intrusive European Union.

Britain’s future in the union — along with heightened tensions around Europe’s migrant crisis — are dominating an EU summit in Brussels scheduled to finish Friday with what Cameron hopes is a deal for EU reform.

He wrapped up talks in Brussels around 5:30 a.m. and is expected to resume meetings late morning.

A British official speaking on customary condition of anonymity said Friday morning there are “some signs of progress but nothing yet agreed and still a lot to do.”

Cameron wants a deal that will let him urge Britons to vote “yes” to continued membership in an upcoming referendum.

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