Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the annual conference of Britain’s main employers’ organization on November 21, 2022 (AFP / Oli SCARFF)
The British government has no intention of easing Brexit to get closer to the European Union, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak assured on Monday, a day after press reports suggested London could seek closer ties with the European Union.
“Let me be clear about this… the UK will not seek any relationship with Europe based on alignment with EU law,” Rishi Sunak said at a briefing conference for the country’s main employers’ organizations in Birmingham.
“I voted for Brexit. I believe and know that Brexit can and does already bring great benefits and opportunities to the country,” he added, referring to Britain’s resumption of immigration controls since leaving the EU or the trade deals signed with other countries .
This defense of Brexit comes a day after press reports that London will seek to strengthen its ties with Brussels, three years after leaving the EU.
According to the Sunday Times, “members of the government plan to set Britain on the path to a relationship similar to Switzerland’s with the EU”. An initiative that would be “intended to strengthen economic ties” with the EU.
On Sunday, a government spokesman had already rejected such a project, calling the article “categorically false”.
On Monday, the Secretary of State for Immigration, Robert Jenrick, also insisted that Britain now had “a well-defined position” on its relationship with Brussels, with the EU exit deal agreed in 2019.
Under the deal, the UK left the single market, although trade remains largely tariff-free, ended free movement and no longer contributes financially to the EU.
“These core principles are what will guide our relationship going forward,” Mr Jenrick told Sky News.
Comments made last week by Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt, who said he wanted to see “the vast majority” of tariff barriers between his country and the EU abolished, also raised questions about the government’s intentions among Eurosceptic Conservatives.
The current economic and financial difficulties in the UK are leading to increasing criticism of the effects of Brexit, with the body responsible for economic forecasting (OBR) last week assessing that Brexit had had “an important negative impact” on the country’s trade.
According to a YouGov poll, 56% of Britons now think Brexit was a mistake.