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The Latest: German govt won't comment on UK Brexit moves

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Brexit (all times local): 1:20 p.m. The German government isn't commenting on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's move to suspend Parliament, depriving opponents of time to thwart a no-deal Brexit.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters in Berlin Wednesday that "this is a parliamentary procedure in Britain that is being discussed vigorously there, and won't be commented on by the government spokesman in Germany."

Johnson met Merkel in Berlin last week, and also has traveled to Paris and to the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz as he tries to extract concessions from the European Union on the terms of Britain's withdrawal agreement — concessions that the EU appears unlikely to offer. He has insisted that Britain will leave the bloc on Oct. 31, with or without a deal.

1:05 p.m.

The European Parliament's chief Brexit official says the motto of Boris Johnson's Brexiteers — Taking back control — "has never looked so sinister" as it does now that he plans to suspend Parliament.  

 "As a fellow parliamentarian, my solidarity with those fighting for their voices to be heard," said Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt. 

 "Suppressing debate on profound choices is unlikely to help deliver a stable future EU-UK relationship," he said in a Twitter message. 

If the U.K. is to leave with an agreement, the European Parliament needs to approve it.  

1 p.m.

A group of Church of England bishops has released an open letter about their worries about the impact of a "no-deal" Brexit on the poor and other vulnerable people.

The 25 bishops said in their letter that they "have particular concerns about the potential cost of a No Deal Brexit to those least resilient to economic shocks."

They also said that it was "unlikely" that leaving the European Union without a deal "will lead to reconciliation or peace in a fractured country."

The letter was released the same day that Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to suspend Parliament until Oct. 14, squeezing the time for the opposition to thwart a no-deal Brexit. Britain is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31.

12:20 p.m.

The leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party has welcomed the British government's move to suspend Parliament as the Brexit deadline looms ever closer.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that his government intends to temporarily shut down Parliament until Oct. 14, squeezing the time for the opposition to thwart a no-deal Brexit. Britain is due to leave the European Union on Oct. 31.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said in statement that "we welcome the decision to hold a Queen's Speech marking the start of a new session of Parliament on 14 October where the government will set out its new domestic legislative agenda."

She added that "we will continue our work with the prime minister to strengthen the Union, deliver a sensible deal as we exit the EU and restore devolution in Northern Ireland."

11:55 a.m.

The European Union is staying well away from the uproar caused by the decision of the U.K. government to suspend Parliament. 

EU Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said Wednesday that the bloc "is not commenting on internal political procedures of our member states. And we're also not going to speculate what this means in terms of next steps."

The EU and U.K. are seeking to break a deadlock in the negotiations that could force Britain to leave the bloc without a deal on Oct 31. 

U.K. negotiator David Frost is in Brussels for technical talks with diplomats in an attempt to find some progress. 

Andreeva said that the EU will assess any proposal the UK offers "that are compatible with" the withdrawal agreement it reached with former prime minister Theresa May.  

11:45 a.m.

Anti-Brexit campaigners who want a second referendum have accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of "trashing the constitution" after the government moved to suspend Parliament.

Johnson wants to temporarily shut down Parliament until mid-October, squeezing the time for the opposition to thwart a no-deal Brexit.

Lawmaker Margaret Beckett, a leading supporter of the "people's vote" campaign, said that "Boris Johnson and his government are trashing the constitution ... While Parliament is not even sitting, he is disgracefully dragging the queen into the heart of the most difficult and dangerous exploitation of the usual powers of Government."

Independent legislator Nick Boles, who left the Conservative Party earlier this year, tweeted: "The government's plan to prorogue Parliament until 14 Oct clarifies the choice for MPs who want to stop a No Deal Brexit. If they don't support legislative steps next week, there will be no second chance. Hopefully this will stiffen backbones and concentrate minds."

11:30 a.m.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage says the British government's move to suspend Parliament makes a no-confidence motion "now certain."

Farage tweeted after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to ask Queen Elizabeth II to suspend Parliament.

Farage said that "a general election is more likely and is seen as a positive move by Brexiteers."

But he says the big question is whether Johnson intends to pursue the withdrawal agreement with the European Union.

Farage said "If he does, then The Brexit Party will fight him every inch of the way. But if he now wants a clean break Brexit then we would like to help him secure a large majority in a general election."

11:15 a.m.

U.K. House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has responded with outrage to moves by the government to suspend Parliament, saying that it "represents a constitutional outrage."

Bercow says he was not told in advance of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision. He says "it is blindingly obvious" that the purpose of the suspension "would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country."

Bercow says that Johnson should be seeking to establish his democratic credentials, rather than undermine them.

 He adds that "shutting down Parliament would be an offense against the democratic process and the rights of Parliamentarians as the people's elected representatives."

11 a.m.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has written to lawmakers explaining his decision to ask Queen Elizabeth II to suspend Parliament.

In a letter released Wednesday, Johnson says that he "spoke to Her Majesty The Queen to request an end to the current parliamentary session."

The move will squeeze lawmakers who want to bring forward new legislation to block a no-deal Brexit ahead of the Oct. 31 departure.

He says a central feature of the legislative program will be the introduction of a bill to leave the European Union and "to secure its passage before 31 October."

Johnson concludes that: "As always my door is open to all colleagues should you wish to discuss this or any other matter.

10:40 a.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will temporarily shut down Parliament in mid-October, squeezing the time for the opposition to thwart a no-deal Brexit.

In comments on Wednesday, Johnson confirmed earlier reports that he would hold the Queen's Speech — normally a formality that outlines the legislative agenda — on Oct. 14. Since Parliament is normally suspended before the speech, the decision means opposition lawmakers would be unlikely to have enough time to pass laws blocking the U.K.'s exit from the European Union on Oct. 31 without a negotiated deal. 

Lawmakers are reacting with fury. 

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson says Johnson is embarking on a "dangerous and unacceptable course of action".

She said: "Shutting down Parliament would be an act of cowardice from Boris Johnson.

10:15 a.m.

The British currency has fallen sharply on reports that the government wants to suspend Parliament to quash lawmakers' efforts to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

The pound fell to $1.2187 on Wednesday from about $1.2300 the day before, a sign that investors are more alarmed by the prospect of Britain falling out of the European Union on Oct. 31 without a divorce deal.

A so-called no-deal Brexit would see the return of border checks and tariffs on trade between Britain and the rest of the EU, its greatest trading partner.

The BBC reported that Johnson will use the Queen's Speech — normally a formality that outlines the legislative agenda — to suspend Parliament. The decision to hold the speech on Oct. 14 will be made later today.

The timing means that lawmakers would be unlikely to have enough time to pass laws blocking the U.K.'s exit from the European Union without a negotiated deal.

10 a.m.

British opposition lawmakers are reacting with fury to reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will seek a suspension of Parliament to hamper efforts to quash a no-deal Brexit.

The BBC reported that Johnson will use the Queen's Speech — normally a formality that outlines the legislative agenda — to suspend Parliament. The decision to hold the speech on Oct. 14 will be made later today.

The timing means that lawmakers would be unlikely to have enough time to pass laws blocking the U.K.'s exit from the European Union without a negotiated deal.

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "So it seems that Boris Johnson may actually be about to shut down Parliament to force through a no deal Brexit. Unless MPs come together to stop him next week, today will go down in history as a dark one indeed for UK democracy."

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