Ministers have insisted there is no question of tearing up the Brexit deal in the hope of securing a closer, Swiss-style relationship with Brussels.
A report that Rishi Sunak’s Government is considering putting the UK on the road to closer ties with the European Union has alarmed Brexiteers but Downing Street and senior ministers sought to play down the speculation.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said it “couldn’t be further from the truth” and insisted the “fundamental tenets” of the Brexit deal signed by Boris Johnson would not be renegotiated.
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.
(Jenrick) “But there’s no question whatsoever of us reopening the fundamental tenets of that deal. I think it’s broadly the right one, because we did that for a reason.”
A Government spokesperson labelled the Sunday Times story “categorically untrue”.
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.
The above summary was derived from the story linked below