Rishi Sunak rules out Swiss-style trade deal with EU

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has ruled out any Swiss-style deal to remove trade barriers with the EU, as Eurosceptic Tory MPs have claimed Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is trying to ease Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.

Sunak insisted at the CBI conference in Birmingham that Johnson’s ‘rough’ Brexit deal – the Trade and Cooperation Agreement – could ‘bring enormous benefits to the country “.

But some Tory MPs believe Hunt, who backed Remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum and wants to remove the ‘vast majority’ of UK-EU trade barriers, is pushing for a softer form of Brexit .

Downing Street said on Monday that Sunak would not endorse a “Swiss-style deal” with the EU, ruling out any alignment with EU rules and rejecting the free movement of people, the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and any “unnecessary payment” in Brussels. .

The TCA removes quotas and tariffs from most exchanges, but leaves major regulatory hurdles in place, due to Britain’s exclusion from the single market. The Independent Office for Budget Responsibility said last week that Brexit had caused a “significant negative effect on trade”.

Hunt told the BBC last week that ‘unfettered trade’ with neighbors was ‘very good for growth’, but declined to say how the government could break down those barriers when outside the single market.

“I have great confidence that in the years to come we will find, outside the single marketwe are able to remove the vast majority of trade barriers that exist between us and the EU,” he said.

Downing Street refused to echo Hunt’s call for the removal of the ‘vast majority’ of trade barriers between the UK and the EU, acknowledging that the EU had made it clear Britain would pay the “hard” Brexit price negotiated by Johnson.

Downing Street has dismissed a Sunday Times report that the UK is considering a Swiss-style trading relationship with the EU, saying instead that regulatory freedom was a major Brexit opportunity.

Sunak said, “Let me be unequivocal. Under my leadership, the UK will not pursue any relationship with Europe that is based on alignment with EU rules. I voted for Brexit. I believe in Brexit. Brexit can bring huge benefits and opportunities for the country.

Pro-Brexit MPs were partially reassured by Downing Street’s insistence that it would not pursue a Swiss-style deal, but many suspect Hunt of trying to push government policy towards a softer Brexit.

A former minister said: “Rishi was a Leave supporter, which gives him a lot of credibility. But there is less confidence in Jeremy’s Brexit credentials. His instincts are apparently still geared towards closer alignment with the EU.

David Davis, former Brexit secretary, said: “The general direction of travel will be towards a loosening of relations between the UK and the EU which is long overdue given recent tensions. But the UK will not will ever be in a Swiss-style deal with the EU.

A Tory backbench MP said: “Brexiteers fear the establishment has now taken control. I and many others never saw Rishi as a real Brexiteer. The fact that our Chancellor is a Remainer is also a cause for concern.

Another senior member of the Eurosceptic European Research Group said: “The Chancellor and Sunak clearly have different views on the EU and Brexit, but it seems the Prime Minister is assertive on the issue.”

Hunt’s allies say the Chancellor is committed to exploiting the opportunities presented by Johnson’s Brexit deal – not seeking a new model – while the Treasury and Number 10 have denied any difference in approach On the question.

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