‘Getting bored of London’ EU diplomat mocks UK over Swiss-style Brexit

Brexit 'will take longer to bring big benefits' says Davis

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An EU diplomat has mocked the UK Government over it’s reported plans for a Swiss-syle Brexit. Last week, reports suggested the Government is considering putting the UK on the road to closer ties with the European Union, which alarmed Brexiteers. The Prime Minister said he voted for and continues to believe in Brexit, pointing to opportunities to control migration and strike new trade deals.

Both Downing Street and senior ministers have sought to play down the suggestion.

Asked about the latest Brexit reports, one diplomat told Politico: “There’s nothing to comment on because there’s no proposal.

“I’m not trying to be flippant, but what would the proposal be?”

He added: “It comes back to a little bit that’s been ongoing for a long time: it seems to be London talking to London and London trying to figure out what London can accept.

“I’m getting bored of giving the same answer.”

European Commission spokesperson Daniel Ferrie echoed his tone on Monday, telling reporters “that any relationship between the European Union and a third country is based on the balance of rights and obligations”, namely the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement signed under former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) annual conference in Birmingham, Mr Sunak said he wished to be “unequivocal” that the UK “will not pursue any relationship with Europe that relies on alignment with EU laws” under his stewardship.

“I voted for Brexit, I believe in Brexit and I know that Brexit can deliver, and is already delivering, enormous benefits and opportunities for the country – migration being an immediate one where we have proper control of our borders and are able to have a conversation with the country about the type of migration that we want and need,” he said.

“We weren’t able to do that inside the European Union, at least now we are in control of it.

“When it comes to trade, it means that we can open up our country to the world’s fastest-growing markets.

“I’ve just got back from the G20 in Indonesia, we’re talking about signing CPTPP, where we’ve got some of the most exciting, fastest-growing economies in the world and we can become a part of that trading bloc, that’s a fantastic opportunity for the UK.”

He said the UK could also have “regulatory regimes that are fit for the future that ensure that this country can be leaders in those industries that are going to create the jobs and the growth of the future”.

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The Sunday Times reported “senior government figures” were planning to put the UK on a path towards arrangements similar to Switzerland’s to ensure access to the EU’s single market.

The model would involve more liberal EU migration – although full free movement would not be on the table – and payments to the Brussels budget, the newspaper reported.

While Mr Sunak worked to reassure pro-Brexit figures in his party, in Brussels, senior EU diplomats took the opportunity to mock the political chaos unravelling in the UK.

A Government spokesperson labelled the Sunday Times story as “categorically untrue”.

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They said: “This Government is focused on using our Brexit freedoms to create opportunities that drive growth and strengthen our economy.

“Brexit means we will never again have to accept a relationship with Europe that would see a return to freedom of movement, unnecessary payments to the European Union or jeopardise the full benefit of trade deals we are now able to strike around the world.”

Switzerland and the EU have a close economic relationship based on a series of bilateral agreements, giving the country direct access to parts of the EU’s internal market including the free movement of people.

The UK is locked in long-running talks with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, a post-Brexit arrangement for the region designed to avoid a border on the island of Ireland.

Unionists have opposed the protocol as impeding trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, placing a border in the Irish Sea.

This has resulted in the collapse of the Stormont Assembly, with top civil servants left to run government departments.

However, there have been renewed hopes in recent weeks that a deal can be secured and the relationship improved between the UK and the EU after years of tensions.

A Swiss-style veterinary agreement has been one of the options mooted by some on the EU side as a solution to the protocol dispute.

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