Over six years since the UK’s referendum on its membership of the EU, the issue of Brexit remains a highly divisive issue within the UK government. The UK is still negotiating deals with the EU following its official withdrawal on 31 January, 2020 – and the latest issue is whether the country will pursue a ‘Swiss-style’ post-Brexit relationship with the EU.
It was reported that Sunak’s Conservative government were seeking a ‘Swiss-style’ deal in which there would be increased migration and less barriers and costs to trading between the UK and the EU. Due to the ongoing economic turmoil and market crisis in the UK, such a deal could offer considerable economic stability.
Switzerland’s deal with the EU means that they have access to the single market for most of its industries and no or limited checks on the trading of many goods. It also means, however, that they must follow some EU laws: the country is part of the Schengen common travel area and is required to pay into the EU budget.
However, Sunak firmly ruled this type of deal at the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) annual conference on Monday, stating that he was “unequivocal” that he would not return to any alignment with EU laws. He went on to say: “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”.
Sunak also highlighted some of these perceived benefits, including “proper control of our borders” - “we weren't able to do that inside the European Union, at least now we are in control of it” - and the freedom to pursue trade deals with "the world's fastest-growing economies".
However, Home Office Minister Robert Jenrick did state: "That doesn't mean that we're not interested in improving our trading relations with the European Union or indeed in my sphere, our security and migration partnership with the European Union."
Although Sunak aimed to highlight the advantages of Brexit, many remain unconvinced. A recent YouGov poll showed the public largely now believe that the UK was wrong to leave the EU by 56% to 32%, and Brexit is widely believed by economists to have significantly damaged the UK economy, as highlighted recently by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.
When asked about the damage caused Brexit upon the UK economy and trade, Jenrick told the BBC it was too soon to say whether or not Brexit will cause the UK long-term economic damage, largely due to the difficulty in separating the economic disruption caused by Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine.
Image Source: Garry Knight via Creative Commons
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