A British minister on Sunday denied a report saying the country was seeking closer ties with the European Union.
The Sunday Times quoted an unnamed minister as saying the government was seeking a Swiss-style relationship with the European Union, albeit one without freedom of movement.
Switzerland has a free trade agreement with the bloc and a number of other bilateral agreements. While not a member of the EU, it contributes to the bloc’s budgets and its citizens are allowed free movement across EU territory.
Report ‘categorically false’
A UK government spokesman said the report was “categorically untrue”.
“Brexit means we never again have to accept a relationship with Europe that would lead to a return to free movement, unnecessary payments to the European Union or completely jeopardize the trade deals we can now negotiate around the world,” he said. said the statement. said a spokesman.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay told the Sky News channel: “I don’t recognize this story at all.”
“I don’t support that. I want to maximize the opportunities that Brexit offers,” he said.
What were the consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU?
The UK held a referendum on leaving the bloc in 2016 and reached a withdrawal agreement three years ago.
The Conservative Party ruled out a “soft” Brexit during negotiations with the EU, instead opting to leave the bloc’s internal market.
Britain’s tax watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, said last week that leaving the EU “has had a significant negative impact on UK trade”.
Treasury Chief Jeremy Hunt told the TBEN: “Unfettered trade with our neighbors is very beneficial for growth.” He predicted that the “vast majority” of “trade barriers” would be lifted, although this process could take years.
Britain’s withdrawal from the EU has also sparked significant tension in Northern Ireland over an agreement reached to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, which is a member of the EU. The agreement, known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, imposed controls on trade between the constituent country and the rest of the UK.
Northern Ireland has been without a functioning government since February, when the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) withdrew from a power-sharing arrangement. The DUP opposes trade controls between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
sdi/kb (TBEN, TBEN, Reuters)