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The Latest: UK’s May fills Brexit-related Cabinet vacancies

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May answers a journalist's question during a press conference inside 10 Downing Street in London, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. British Prime Minister Theresa May says if politicians reject her Brexit deal, it will set the country on "a path of deep and grave uncertainty." Defiant in the face of mounting criticism, May said Thursday she believed "with every fiber of my being" that the deal her government struck with the European Union was the right one. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)

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

4:40 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has filled two vacancies in her Cabinet left by ministers who quit over Brexit.

Little-known lawmaker Stephen Barclay was named Brexit secretary. He replaces Dominic Raab, who quit Thursday because he opposed May’s draft Brexit agreement with the European Union.

The government says Barclay, formerly a junior health minister, will focus on “domestic preparedness” for Brexit now that negotiations with the EU are almost done.

Amber Rudd was made work and pensions secretary, replacing Esther McVey.

Rudd is a former Cabinet minister who resigned as home secretary in April amid a scandal over authorities’ mistreatment of long-term U.K. residents wrongly caught up in a government drive to reduce illegal immigration.

She is a longstanding ally of May’s and has said she supports the proposed divorce agreement with the EU.

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3:45 p.m.

A leading lobby group for British business says the Brexit deal that Prime Minister Theresa May has negotiated with the European Union represents “hard-won progress.”

In a statement following a specially convened meeting of its most senior policy-making committee, the Confederation of British Industry said the deal has two main benefits for the economy.

First, it says a deal “unlocks” a transition period after Britain’s departure from the EU in March that will avoid a “no-deal cliff edge.” During that period, which is currently expected to last until the end of 2020 but can be extended, Britain will abide by the EU’s rules.

The CBI also said the deal “opens a route to a good long-term trade deal.”

For prosperity’s sake, the CBI said “we must not go backwards.”

The deal, secured this week, has met with widespread opposition in Parliament and led to a string of resignations from May’s government.

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1:50 p.m.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is blaming the policies of the European Union for Britain’s exit from the bloc.

“If the EU wasn’t what it is now, the United Kingdom would still have been a member of a structure that respects the nations, the people, that doesn’t impose migration polices and deals that have very heavy consequences on our industries and agriculture,” Le Pen said Friday at a news conference in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.

Le Pen said it was clear that the EU wants to punish Britain by imposing “conditions that are unacceptable to a large majority of the people in the U.K. and to members of the British government.”

“The idea was to do as much evil as possible to the United Kingdom so that no other nation would rise against the EU or contest the EU,” she said.

Le Pen, along with other figures of the European far-right, is attending a forum of the Movement for a Europe of Nations and Liberties, which discussed ways to make gains in next year’s EU elections.

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10:15 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has had one piece of good news as she battles a rebellion within her Conservative Party.

Environment Minister Michael Gove has decided not to follow two other Cabinet ministers and resign over May’s Brexit deal with the European Union, according to multiple media reports.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey quit Thursday, saying they could not support the agreement.

May still faces the threat of a no-confidence vote, after several Conservative lawmakers said they had written letters asking for one.

Sky News reports that all Conservative whips have been summoned to London amid rumors the number of letters may have reached 48 — the threshold needed to trigger a vote.

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9:15 a.m.

France’s finance minister is calling some British politicians “liars” who fooled voters into thinking leaving the EU would be easy and in their interests.

As British Prime Minister Theresa May battles to save her Brexit plan amid domestic criticism, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Friday “the truth is that Brexit could end with a nightmare.”

Le Maire defended the European Union’s single market, calling it a “considerable force” in global trade and warning that Britain could face “economic disaster” if it leaves.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s government is among the strongest defenders of the EU and is trying to limit the damage to the bloc from Britain’s exit and ensure that Brexit doesn’t encourage other EU members to leave.

Le Maire was speaking to a conference in Paris on reforming the global trade system.

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8:40 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is appealing directly to voters to back her Brexit plan, as she waits to see whether rivals within her party have gained enough support to launch a leadership challenge.

May was answering questions from callers on a radio phone-in Friday, the day after she vowed to stay in office and see through Britain’s exit from the European Union.

May is battling to save her Brexit plan, and her job, after the draft withdrawal agreement between Britain and the EU sparked fierce opposition from euroskeptic politicians in her Conservative Party.

Several Conservative lawmakers are pushing for a no-confidence vote, hoping to reach a threshold of 48 to trigger a challenge.

Two ministers quit May’s government on Thursday. A third, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, is considering whether to follow them.

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.



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