The Tories descended into a fresh bout of Brexit wars today as ministers warned they will not back a push for ‘Swiss-style’ ties with the EU.
Government sources have been signalling that Switzerland’s relationship with the bloc could be a model for the UK over the next decade.
However, despite claims free movement would not return there are fears the UK could end up accepting EU law, paying into Brussels coffers and facing higher immigration.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay tried to pour cold water on the reports in the Sunday Times this morning, telling Sky News‘ Ridge on Sunday programme: ‘I do not support that. I want to maximise the opportunities that Brexit offers.’
Mr Barclay pointed out that Mr Sunak himself was a strong Brexiteer.
Tory MPs warned against a ‘betrayal’ of the 2016 referendum result. Former Cabinet Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Conservatives are a ‘Brexit party’ and would risk becoming a ‘non-Brexit party’ if it agreed to ‘unfettered’ trade with the EU.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt raised eyebrows last week by saying he wants to remove trade barriers with Brussels as part of efforts to boost the economy.
Although he stressed that did not mean rejoining the single market, sources told the Sunday Times that Switzerland’s arrangements could be a model.
Downing Street sources rejected the claims.
Read more: Tory civil war on Brexit reignites over plan for ‘Swiss-style’ deal: Ministers deny claims that No 10 is mulling closer ties with the EU that could mean accepting bloc’s law, paying into Brussels coffers and higher immigration