The Latest: UK-EU talks on Brexit to be stepped up

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

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10:30 p.m.

Britain will be stepping up its technical meetings with European Union negotiators as the nation tries to secure a deal to leave the trading bloc.

Downing Street says in a statement its team of Brexit negotiators will meet with their EU counterparts twice a week throughout September, with the possibility of additional technical meetings. Two meetings are set to take place next week.

Issues include the impasse on the so-called backstop clause in the withdrawal agreement, which is aimed at avoiding the return of a border between EU member Republic of Ireland and Britain's Northern Ireland.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says that while he has been encouraged by his discussions with the EU, "it is now time for both sides to step up the tempo. The increase in meetings and discussions is necessary if are to have a chance of agreeing a deal for when we leave on October 31st, no ifs no buts."


6 p.m.

Finland says it will continue to pay state pensions to recipients residing in Britain for up to one year after the U.K.'s withdrawal from the European Union in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

The Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said that the so-called protection period already applies to those Finnish state pension recipients who move outside the EU.

The ministry said in a statement that by extending the measure to include Britain, "Finland prepares for a no-deal Brexit."

It said the Finnish government paid an average of 105 euros ($116) a month in pensions to 320 recipients residing in Britain in 2018.


4:10 p.m.

Britain's Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, says the House of Commons will move quickly to try to block a no-deal Brexit despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson's move to suspend Parliament.

Corbyn told Sky News that Parliament should "legislate rapidly" to prevent a "no-deal" Brexit and that he would try to "politically stop" Johnson from pushing through a no-deal Brexit and shutting down Parliament. Corbyn says "we believe we can do it."

The move by Johnson to suspend Parliament could make it more likely that Britain falls out of the European Union on Oct. 31 without a deal, wreaking havoc for people and businesses.

The decision was slammed by some as being dictatorial, but Brexit supporters cheered it as a decisive move to finally bring the country out of the EU three years after the 2016 referendum.


1:30 p.m.

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator is warning British Prime Minister Boris Johnson he will not back down before the Oct. 31 departure date and make concessions just to break a deadlock and avoid a chaotic no-deal departure of the U.K.

Michel Barnier warned Thursday that "in all circumstances, the EU will continue to protect the interests of its citizens and companies, as well as the conditions for peace and stability on the island of Ireland."

The border situation between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and the EU's Ireland remains the main sticking point to have an orderly withdrawal of Britain from the bloc. There are fears it could endanger the peace process on the island.

Barnier said that making sure the island remains peaceful is "our duty & our responsibility."


11:15 a.m.

Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson has announced her resignation, the day after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suspended Parliament in a move widely criticized by political opponents.

Davidson cited family reasons, having recently started a family. But the timing of her decision, coming so soon after Johnson's seismic decision raised questions.

In her resignation speech Thursday, Davidson said that with a Scottish election looming in 2021, she realized it would have been too difficult to be away from her family.

Davidson says she stands behind Johnson's efforts to get a Brexit deal.


9:35 a.m.

Political opposition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's move to suspend Parliament is crystalizing, with protests around Britain and a petition to block the move gaining more than 1 million signatures.

Johnson's maneuver gives his political opponents even less time to prevent a chaotic no-deal Brexit before the Oct. 31 withdrawal deadline. But the decision outraged critics and is serving as a unifying force for the disparate opposition.

House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg dismissed the outrage Thursday as "phony." He insisted in an interview with the BBC that Johnson wants to outline his domestic agenda.

The move has prompted ruptures across the political spectrum, including among members of Johnson's Conservative Party. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is expected to resign Thursday, in part due to opposition to Johnson's Brexit strategy.