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'Last thing we need!' Liam Fox sets out three arguments against Swiss-style deal with EU

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A Tory Brexiteer has torn apart the prospect of Britain striking a Swiss-style deal with the European Union. Dr Liam Fox set out three reasons why the move would not match up “in any way, shape or form” with the “spirit” of Brexit.

The senior Conservative MP highlighted how Switzerland – which is not a member of the EU – has to pay into the bloc’s budget, accept freedom of movement and follows some EU rules in exchange for access to the single market.

Dr Fox told Sky News: “I think politically reopening the debate on Brexit is last thing we need at the present time.

“This talk about a Swiss relationship, the Swiss have to pay into the EU budget, they have to accept free movement of people and they have to accept European laws over which they have no control.

“I don’t see that as being in line in any way, shape or form with the spirit of our referendum or our exit from the EU.

“I think it’s a political non-starter, it’s a waste of everyone’s energy, when we should just get on with the job in hand.

Dr Fox’s comments come after reports Rishi Sunak’s Government is eyeing up a Swiss-style deal with Brussels, which had sparked alarm among Brexiteers.

But the PM yesterday downplayed the suggestion of closer ties with the EU.

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.

He said: “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.

“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.”

It comes after 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.

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

The UK is locked in ongoing talks with the EU over the Nothern Ireland Protocol.

The post-Brexit arrangement for the region was designed to avoid a border on the island of Ireland but has been a long-running source of tension as it has led to checks on goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland.



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