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The Latest: Merkel open to free trade agreement post-Brexit

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — The Latest on Brexit (all times local): 3:45 p.m. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she still sees a possibility for Britain to make "an orderly exit" from the European Union but Germany also is prepared for a disorderly Brexit.

Merkel said a day after a telephone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that she stood behind previous statements on the opportunity for Britain to have an agreement with the EU in hand when it leaves to ease the transition.

That said, the chancellor reiterated Wednesday: "We are also prepared for a disorderly exit." Merkel says she wants to ensure a friendly post-Brexit relationship with the U.K. She says she hopes for continuing cooperation on security and foreign policy, as well as the possibility of a free trade agreement.

12:40 p.m.

The Danish government says the risk of Britain leaving the European Union without a divorce deal "will have serious consequences for the U.K., but also for Denmark and the rest of the EU."

Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofoed says a government task force will be created "so we can prepare Denmark as best we can."

Denmark estimates that mainly small and medium-size companies will be affected and up to 15% more goods from non-EU countries will enter Denmark after Brexit.

The Danish government has unveiled a hotline to help businesses understand the consequences of a potential no-deal Brexit.

Britain is Denmark's fourth largest export market, representing about 8% of Danish exports, and some 45,000 jobs are related to British export.

1:05 p.m.

EU lawmakers have adopted a non-binding resolution supporting another extension to the Brexit deadline if Britain requests it.

After a three-hour debate Wednesday, lawmakers voted 544 in favor, 126 against with 38 abstentions in the parliament's plenary in Strasbourg, France.

Britain's departure from the 28-nation bloc is set for Oct. 31. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been adamant that the U.K. will leave the EU on that scheduled date with or without a withdrawal agreement.

Attending the debate, EU Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier said he wants to keep working "night and day" in order to find a satisfying Brexit deal for both parties. He urged Johnson and his team to make concrete proposals.

12:10 p.m.

The head of an influential German industry organization is warning of granting Britain a last-minute extension on leaving the European Union.

The head of the Federation of German Industries, Joachim Lang, said Wednesday that even though a no-deal Brexit is "the absolute worst scenario" for companies, extending the deadline at the last minute will just increase uncertainty.

He noted that the postponement already given has caused companies "unnecessary expenditures" and did not advance political negotiations.

He says a postponement should only be given with a "clear roadmap" that enjoys British parliamentary support.

As it stands, he says the British government is "playing with fire."

Lang says about a half million German jobs are linked to economic ties with Britain and estimated that with a no-deal Brexit, a "high five-figure" number could be affected.

11:35 am.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage says Britain and the European Union appear ready to overcome their differences and seal a new divorce agreement next month that would leave the U.K. trapped in Europe.

Referring to the EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, Farage said Wednesday "keeping us trapped inside, this was the objective of Barnier's from the start."

Farage says the EU fears "that the U.K. breaks out of the customs union, breaks out of the single market rules and we become more competitive and we become much wealthier outside the European Union than within it."

He branded Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel a "pipsqueak", saying that Bettel "set out to ritually humiliate a British prime minister in the most astonishing way" on Monday at a news conference that Boris Johnson declined to attend.

10:35 a.m.

The European Parliament's top Brexit official is taking aim at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government and anti-Europe parties in the U.K. over the shutdown of the British Parliament.

Guy Verhofstadt said Wednesday that Eurosceptic politicians "like bashing Europe by saying that the European Union is undemocratic."

He says, though, that EU leaders "can do a lot of things, but at least they cannot close the doors of our house. That is not possible."

Verhofstadt says British EU lawmakers are making noise in Europe "because they can't do it in Westminster anymore."

Britain's Supreme Court will rule soon on whether Johnson broke the law by suspending parliament weeks before the U.K. is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31.

10:10 a.m.

Britain's Supreme Court is set to resume its historic hearing to determine whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament was illegal.

The case resumes Wednesday for a full day of testimony. It is expected to conclude Thursday.

Judges must determine if Johnson overstepped his authority by suspending Parliament for a five-week period during the run-up to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline for Britain to leave the European Union.

The government's opponents argue that Johnson illegally shut down Parliament just weeks before the country is due to leave the 28-nation bloc for the "improper purpose" of dodging lawmakers' legitimate scrutiny of his Brexit plans. They also accused Johnson of misleading Queen Elizabeth II, whose formal approval was needed to suspend the legislature.

The government claims the suspension was routine, not related to Brexit and a matter for politicians, not the court.

9:15 a.m.

The risk of Britain leaving the European Union without a divorce deal remains "very real," European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker declared Wednesday as EU lawmakers debated the ramifications of a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Juncker, who met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday, said a no-deal Brexit "might be the choice of the U.K., but it will never be ours."

After the debate, the European Parliament is set to adopt a resolution laying out its concerns about Britain's impending departure from the 28-nation bloc on Oct. 31. Johnson has been adamant the U.K. will leave the EU on that scheduled date with or without a withdrawal agreement.

The main sticking point over a Brexit deal is the Irish border backstop, which would require Britain to retain some EU trade rules in order to avoid a hard border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.'s Northern Ireland.

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