The U.K. government will not entertain a Swiss-style post-Brexit agreement with the European Union which would’ve eliminated a number of economic barriers caused by Brexit, The Sunday Times reports.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is seeking a closer relationship with the EU and had been reportedly looking at an agreement similar to that of Switzerland’s as one example, which has enraged Euroskeptics in Parliament.
Switzerland sits outside of the EU and enjoys access to the trading bloc’s single market, but in return it pays into the EU budget, emulates EU laws and allows freedom of movement. Its relations with the EU are covered by more than 100 bilateral agreements.
Senior figures told the Sunday Times that Sunak’s government was considering putting an agreement together similar to Switzerland’s deal but without freedom of movement but has now rejected the idea after a trail of Euroskeptic Conservative MPs warned against the move.
A spokeswoman from the foreign ministry told the Sunday Times that the government is focused on ensuring “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 EU or jeopardize the full benefit of trade deals we are able to strike around the world,” she added.
Euroskeptics voice disapproval
Health minister Steve Barclay told Sky News over the weekend that he didn’t support the idea.
“I don’t recognize this story at all,” he said. “I don’t support that. I want to maximize the opportunities that Brexit offers.”
Nigel Farage, a proponent voice behind the Leave EU campaign, slammed the claims on Twitter, saying this “level of betrayal will never be forgiven.”
But Farage previously said in 2020 – when Britain officially left the EU – that Switzerland was the “source of inspiration” for the U.K. to leave the EU.