Sunak government rejects reports of Swiss-style EU relations –

Rishi Sunak’s government has been forced to deny reports it plans to overhaul UK-EU relations by agreeing a trade partnership based on Switzerland’s deal with the bloc.

The Sunday Times reported that senior ministers have been working on a new proposal for relations with the EU that would remove 80% of controls between Britain and Northern Ireland and open up access to the single market. The time he also reported that this could involve annual payments from the UK to the EU budget, but not the return of freedom of movement.

The reports, which have been denied as “categorically false” by the Prime Minister’s office, have still prompted an angry backlash from Brexit supporters.

“I don’t recognize that story at all,” said Steve Barclay, a former Brexit secretary who finalized Britain’s withdrawal deal with the EU. “I want to maximize the opportunities offered by Brexit,” he added.

Trade Minister Maria Caulfield, meanwhile, called the reports “fake news”.

A Swiss-style deal would be based on the principle of regulatory alignment, whereby the UK would commit to respecting swaths of EU single market law. A similar model was initially proposed by former Prime Minister Theresa May in July 2018, but led to the resignation of several ministers, including Boris Johnson, and was later rejected by the EU as “cherry picking “.

In contrast, the Johnson government’s Trade and Cooperation Agreement offers tariff- and quota-free trade between the UK and the EU, but introduces customs controls.

However, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, offered a Swiss-style trade deal last June, but David Frost, the Johnson administration’s Brexit minister, reject

The UK is likely to be at the start of a protracted recession which the Office for Budget Responsibility expects to shrink the economy by 1.4% by 2023. One theory is that ministers wanted to test the water within the party conservative to see if the more Eurosceptic wing would. accept closer trade relations with the EU.

Last week, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the UK would try to improve trade ties with the EU without rejoining the single market.

(Benjamin Fox |

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