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Friday October 18th, 2019 8:05AM

The Latest: Trump says he is "feeling badly" for UK's May

By The Associated Press
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LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Brexit and Britain's political crisis (all times local):

6:25 p.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he is "feeling badly" for British Prime Minister Theresa May who announced Friday that she would resign.

May held an emotional news conference in London hours earlier and said she would step aside June 7 after being unable to secure a Brexit deal.

The president, leaving the White House for Japan, told reporters that "I like her very much."

Trump will meet with May in the U.K. early next month. He is heading to Europe for a state dinner in England as well as D-Day anniversary ceremonies.

The president caused a stir last summer when, in advance of a trip to London, he gave an interview to the tabloid The Sun criticizing May's Brexit divorce plan from the European Union.

___

2:55 p.m.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has called on U.K. authorities to respect the verdict of the Brexit referendum and make the U.K. leave the European Union.

Le Pen, the leader of the anti-migrant, populist National Rally party, said Friday in a news conference in Henin-Beaumont, in northern France, that British Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to quit "because she tried to bypass the will expressed by the British in the Brexit referendum."

She said that French politicians and media must not "teach morality lessons" to the British people who decided to leave the EU.

Polls suggest that Le Pen's party will be among France's top two vote-getters in the European parliament elections that are being held in the bloc until Sunday, along with French President Emmanuel Macron's party.

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1:50 p.m.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis says he hopes that Britain will hold another referendum on leaving the European Union after Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation.

Commenting on May's step, Babis says "I still hope that (Britain) will hold a snap election and at the end they will have one more referendum. That the (British) people finally understand that the misinformation that that they received (about Brexit) is not true and Britain will stay in the European Union."

Babis says he thinks that would "the best for all."

He has called Britain one of the best allies of his country in the bloc because "it's a big state that counterbalances the dominance of Germany and France."

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12:25 p.m.

Spain's caretaker government says that Theresa May's announcement she is stepping down as leader of Britain's Conservative Party is "bad news" because it will make a "hard Brexit," where the country leaves the EU without a deal on future relations, more likely.

Government Spokeswoman Isabel Celaá says that May's resignation, which would usher in a new Conservative prime minister, is not good for those hoping for Britain's orderly departure from the European Union.

May is "throwing in the towel" and the departure agreement negotiated between her government and the EU has "no chance to go ahead," said Celaá, who is also Spain's caretaker education minister.

"A hard Brexit is a reality that under the current circumstances is almost impossible to avoid," Celáa said.

The spokeswoman also says that, ahead of the European parliamentary election in which Spain will take part on Sunday, Britain's politics are "a clear example of what can happen if we allow ourselves to be dragged by extremisms."

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12:15 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron has praised Theresa May's "courageous work" on Brexit after the British prime minister announced her resignation.

"It's too soon to speculate on the consequences of this decision", Macron said, according to a statement from the French presidency. "France is ready to work with the new British prime minister on all European and bilateral issues."

Macron sent May a personal message of support and appreciation, the statement said.

As European parliament elections are being held in the bloc until Sunday, Macron said "this must also remind us, at a time of important choice, that rejection votes with no alternative project lead to an impasse."

___

11:50 a.m.

The pound and British stocks are rising after Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation, as some investors appear to hope it could unblock the political stalemate over Brexit, though analysts warn it could simply mean another delay to the EU departure.

The Conservative Party will tap a new prime minister after May leaves on June 7 and it is more likely that the next leader will be more in favor of Brexit. However, experts say a "no-deal" Brexit — in which Britain leaves the EU without a deal on new trade relations, causing havoc for business — remains unlikely as lawmakers remain divided over how to proceed.

Samuel Tombs, chief U.K. economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, notes that "changing the leader won't alter the maths in parliament."

Tombs expects Britain will remain stuck in political stalemate for at least another year, requiring an extension to its Oct. 31 Brexit deadline.

The pound was up to $1.2715 on Friday from $1.2660 before May's announcement. The FTSE 100 stock index was up 0.6%.

___

11:30 a.m.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker says that he considers British Prime Minister Theresa May as "a woman of courage for whom he has great respect." 

European Union spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said that Juncker watched May's announcement that she will step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7 "with emotion" and added it was "without personal joy."

She said Juncker will "equally respect and establish working relations" with May's successor. Britain currently faces an Oct. 31 deadline to leave the EU.  

___

11:10 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has noted "with respect" the decision of British Prime Minister Theresa May to step down, and will continue to work closely with her successor for an orderly Brexit.

Merkel's spokeswoman, Martina Fietz, told reporters Friday that the chancellor and May always "worked together in a good and trusting" relationship and would continue to do so while May remains in office.

Looking ahead, Fietz says, "we, and the EU as a whole, are interested in a good solution being found in Britain" to the Brexit issue, and that means "an orderly exit."

The German government would not speculate on May's possible successor.

___

11 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's departure speech is drawing praise from fellow Conservative Party members, including some who had criticized her Brexit stance.

Andrea Leadsom, who resigned as House of Commons Leader on Wednesday to protest May's Brexit plan, tweeted that May's speech was "an illustration of her total commitment to country and duty."

Leadsom, a possible leadership contender, said May "did her utmost" and praised the dignity of the prime minister's speech.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove tweeted his thanks to the prime minister. He called it, "A moving speech from a Prime Minister who deserves our respect and gratitude."

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, a frequent critic of May, says she is worried May's decision will bring "an even more hardline" Brexit-backer to power.

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10:05 a.m.

Theresa May says she will step down as U.K. Conservative Party leader on June 7, sparking a contest to become Britain's next prime minister.

She will stay as caretaker prime minister until the new leader is chosen, a process likely to take several weeks.

May has bowed to relentless pressure from her party to quit over her failure to take Britain out of the European Union on schedule.

Her departure will trigger a party leadership contest in which any Conservative lawmaker can run. The early front-runner is Boris Johnson, a former foreign secretary and strong champion of Brexit.

Britain is currently due to leave the EU on Oct. 31, but Parliament has yet to approve divorce terms.

___

8:55 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is meeting a leader of her Conservative lawmakers amid mounting speculation that she is about to announce her departure date.

The party's key backbench committee has set a showdown meeting Friday for May to agree to leave soon or face a leadership challenge.

Pressure on May to quit over her failure to get Parliament's approval for a European Union divorce deal reached critical point this week as a senior minister quit and several Cabinet colleagues expressed doubts about her Brexit bill.

Several British media outlets reported that May would agree to give up the prime minister's post June 10, sparking a Conservative leadership contest.

She could stay in office as a caretaker prime minister for several weeks until party lawmakers and members choose a successor.

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