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The Latest: Johnson urges May to use Brexit loss as leverage

Published
German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks about the decision by British lawmakers to oppose the agreement negotiated by British Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU, during a statement at a parliament building in Berlin, Jan. 16, 2019. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

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

11:45 a.m.

Former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson has urged Prime Minister Theresa May to use her crushing parliamentary defeat as leverage to get a better Brexit deal from European Union leaders.

Johnson said Friday that May would be able to persuade EU leaders to substantially modify the withdrawal plan if she shows enough "gumption" in crisis EU talks.

He says the scope of her historic defeat in Parliament means EU leaders will know they have to make concessions in order to come up with an agreement that would win parliamentary approval.

Johnson dodged a question as to whether he would support May as Conservative Party leader if she calls a sudden election to try to end the Brexit stalemate.

He said he didn't think an election would be called.

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11:30 a.m.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman says the German leader has discussed Brexit by phone with British Prime Minister Theresa May but isn't giving details.

Spokesman Steffen Seibert said the two leaders spoke on Thursday. Officials stressed Friday there has been no change in Berlin's position that it's hard to imagine reopening the withdrawal agreement rejected this week by British lawmakers, and that it's waiting for Britain to say what it now wants.

Seibert said Merkel and May discussed what happens next, "but that can't be resolved in a telephone call between the chancellor and the prime minister — what we need first is the basis of a new proposal, a new direction that Britain has said will come on Monday."

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11 a.m.

France's prime minister is inspecting his country's preparedness for a no-deal Brexit, visiting the Eurotunnel complex and meeting with small businesses on the English Channel coast.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe made the trip to the Calais area Friday under heavy security. A day earlier, the French government activated its contingency plans for the possibility that Britain leaves the European Union on March 29 without rules in place for cross-border trade and travel.

France and other European countries are hiring thousands of customs and border agents and bolstering security at airports and ports to gird for a cliff-edge Brexit. Such a possibility is increasingly likely after the British parliament this week rejected a lengthy EU-Britain divorce deal that would have eased the transition.

France is paying special attention to the Eurotunnel beneath the English Channel, which carries millions of passengers annually and freight trucks that play a significant role in Britain's trade with the continent.

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10:05 a.m.

Talks to end Britain's Brexit stalemate appear deadlocked, with neither Prime Minister Theresa May nor the main opposition leader shifting from their entrenched positions.

May has been meeting politicians from several parties in a bid to find a way forward after her European Union divorce deal was rejected by Parliament this week.

But she is unwilling to move her "red lines," which include taking Britain out of the bloc's customs union. And Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn refuses to meet May unless she rules out the possibility of Britain leaving the EU with no deal.

Amid the impasse, May's opponents are gathering. Ex-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is making a speech Friday in an attempt to burnish his position as a leading Brexit champion, and potential replacement for May.

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 file picture European and French flags are flapping at the Elysee Palace in Paris, during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and local, national political leaders, unions, business leaders and others to hear their concerns after four weeks of protests. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Thursday that the government will start hiring 600 extra government employees including customs agents to handle cross-border trade and security. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)
British Prime Minister Theresa May turns away after speaking outside 10 Downing street in London, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. May's government survived a no-confidence vote Wednesday called after May's Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected by lawmakers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A pro European demonstrator holds a banner near parliament in London, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. British Prime Minister Theresa May is reaching out to opposition parties and other lawmakers Thursday in a battle to put Brexit back on track after surviving a no-confidence vote. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Member of European Parliament Nigel Farage speaks at a pro-Brexit, Leave Means Leave rally at Central Hall in London, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (Kirsty O'Connor/PA via AP)
A pro European demonstrator holds banners near parliament in London, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. British Prime Minister Theresa May is reaching out to opposition parties and other lawmakers Thursday in a battle to put Brexit back on track after surviving a no-confidence vote. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A pro European demonstrator holds a banner near parliament in London, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. British Prime Minister Theresa May is reaching out to opposition parties and other lawmakers Thursday in a battle to put Brexit back on track after surviving a no-confidence vote. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A pro European demonstrator holds a banner near parliament in London, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. British Prime Minister Theresa May is reaching out to opposition parties and other lawmakers Thursday in a battle to put Brexit back on track after surviving a no-confidence vote. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 file picture European and French flags are flapping at the Elysee Palace in Paris, during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and local, national political leaders, unions, business leaders and others to hear their concerns after four weeks of protests. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Thursday that the government will start hiring 600 extra government employees including customs agents to handle cross-border trade and security. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 file picture European and French flags are flapping at the Elysee Palace in Paris, during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and local, national political leaders, unions, business leaders and others to hear their concerns after four weeks of protests. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Thursday that the government will start hiring 600 extra government employees including customs agents to handle cross-border trade and security. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks about the decision by British lawmakers to oppose the agreement negotiated by British Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU, during a statement at a parliament building in Berlin, Jan. 16, 2019. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks about the decision by British lawmakers to oppose the agreement negotiated by British Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU, during a statement at a parliament building in Berlin, Jan. 16, 2019. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)
British Prime Minister Theresa May turns away after speaking outside 10 Downing street in London, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. May's government survived a no-confidence vote Wednesday called after May's Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected by lawmakers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
British Prime Minister Theresa May turns away after speaking outside 10 Downing street in London, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. May's government survived a no-confidence vote Wednesday called after May's Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected by lawmakers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A pro European demonstrator holds banners near parliament in London, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. British Prime Minister Theresa May is reaching out to opposition parties and other lawmakers Thursday in a battle to put Brexit back on track after surviving a no-confidence vote. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A pro European demonstrator holds banners near parliament in London, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. British Prime Minister Theresa May is reaching out to opposition parties and other lawmakers Thursday in a battle to put Brexit back on track after surviving a no-confidence vote. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Member of European Parliament Nigel Farage speaks at a pro-Brexit, Leave Means Leave rally at Central Hall in London, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (Kirsty O'Connor/PA via AP)
Member of European Parliament Nigel Farage speaks at a pro-Brexit, Leave Means Leave rally at Central Hall in London, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (Kirsty O'Connor/PA via AP)