The Latest: Germany hopes for soccer Brexit
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the weekly cabinet meeting of the German government at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
The Latest on Britain's impending departure from the European Union (all times local):
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German diplomats are showing little sense of fair play before three crucial meetings in the battle to rule Europe.
Germany's foreign ministry tweeted Wednesday that while it laments Britain's decision to leave the European Union, "we're hoping for a triple hard Brexit — without a backstop" in three upcoming English-German soccer matches in the Champions League.
The two soccer powerhouses have often let their let political animosities spill over onto the field, with England fans famously singing "Two World Wars and One World Cup" during international matches against Germany. Germany has one four World Cups to England's one.
Tottenham meet Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday in the Champions League round of 16, with Liverpool against Bayern Munich and Schalke against Manchester City set for next week.
As time ticks down to Britain's scheduled departure from the European Union, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is cautioning there's "still a bit of work ahead of us" in trying to agree upon an orderly exit.
Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday: "We continue to regret the withdrawal of Great Britain, but it's a reality and therefore now it's about providing as much security as possible."
Following meetings with Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel she told reporters: "We feel obligated to do everything for a deal, but it certainly it has to be a fair deal … and there we unfortunately still have a bit of work ahead of us."
Merkel has said that reopening the withdrawal agreement "is not on the agenda."
French wine and spirits exporters say they are "in the total fog" over Brexit.
With less than two months before Britain's scheduled departure from the European Union, the head of the French federation of exporters of wines and spirits warned of the damaging effect of an exit without an agreement with the EU.
Speaking on the sidelines of a news conference, Antoine Leccia told The Associated Press: "It could simply destroy the purchasing power of the consumers and also, maybe, there could be a fall of the pound, and we know that in our sectors, the currency fluctuation can have an impact on sales."
Meanwhile, the federation said revenue from exports continued to rise in 2018, reaching a record of 13.2 billion euros.
Switzerland's government says it will set a quota on the number of Britons who can come live and work in the rich Alpine country if Britain has a "disorderly" departure from the European Union.
The executive Federal Council on Wednesday set a limit of 3,500 Britons who can live and work in Switzerland in case of a "no deal" Brexit on March 29, putting them among other non-EU citizens who face similar quotas by nationality.
It would last through year-end. Swiss-British talks are under way to possibly allow for exceptions lasting until future arrangements can be clarified.
The council based its decision on Swiss economic and regional interests, and constitutional requirements. The quotas would not apply to tens of thousands of Britons already living in Switzerland.
Britons currently face no such limit as they fall under a bilateral Swiss-EU deal on free movement of people.
The move exemplifies bureaucratic hassles that non-EU countries like Switzerland face in adapting to a no-deal Brexit scenario.
The British government is downplaying a report that its chief Brexit negotiator said lawmakers will have to choose between backing Prime Minister Theresa May's unpopular divorce deal and a delay to the U.K.'s exit from the European Union.
An ITV News correspondent says he overheard negotiator Olly Robbins in a Brussels bar saying the government would ask Parliament in late March to back her agreement, rejected by lawmakers last month, or seek an extension to the Brexit deadline.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said Wednesday the government is not planning a delay, saying "the prime minister has been very clear that we are committed to leaving on March 29."
If no deal is approved by the British and European parliaments before March 29, the U.K. faces a messy sudden Brexit.
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