Robert Jenrick shuts down claims Brexit Britain to pay EU

Robert Jenrick shuts down Burley on 'repaying' the EU

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Over the weekend, The Sunday Times reported the Government could seek to improve trade with the European Union by brokering a new soft deal modelled on Switzerland’s relationship with the trading bloc. Claims have emerged that some senior Government figures are already involved in negotiations to shift the UK’s Brexit stance to a Swiss-style relationship in a bid to reduce trade barriers across Europe. Notably, this change in policy would likely involve UK contributions to the EU budget, an aspect not likely to please many hardline Brexiteers who wanted to see the EU funds reinvested into the UK’s domestic challenges. 

Amid the rumours of a change in Brexit strategy, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has spoken out to categorically deny UK plans to resume payments to the EU.

Sky News host Kay Burley asked: “Could we potentially restart payments to the EU in order to improve that trade deal?”

Mr Jenrick asserted: “No, we have no intention of doing that.”

He continued: “Money, free movement, the jurisdiction of European judges, these are really important things that were discussed at length within the Conservative Party and within the country a few years ago. 

“We chose our position, I think it is broadly the right one because we did that for a reason.

“We did that so the UK, the fifth largest economy in the world, wasn’t subject to foreign judges or rules and regulations coming out of the European Union and could embrace the opportunities that came with Brexit.”

Discussing the potential for economic growth, Mr Jenrick said: “You heard in the budget, the Chancellor said we would be doing that in crucial areas for the British economy, like life sciences, green technologies, advancements in manufacturing and financial services. 

“That really should be our focus right now – how do you grow the British economy and ensure that we are one of the most innovative countries in the world?

“Using our ability to set our own laws at a faster pace and in a smarter way than a big trading bloc like the European Union is able to do.”

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The Immigration Minister suggested there was no scope for further negotiations on the “fundamental” aspects of the original Brexit withdrawal agreement.

He told Talk TV: “We have a settled position on our relationship with the European Union, that’s the deal that was struck in 2019 and 2020 and that’s the one we intend to stick to.

“That sets out the fundamental position that we don’t want to see a return to free movement, we don’t want to have the jurisdiction of European judges in the UK, and we don’t want to be paying any money to the European Union.”

He added: “Of course, there will be things on which we can improve our relationship – trade, security, and migration are all key topics, and the Prime Minister wants to have the most productive relationship possible with our European friends and neighbours, but there’s no question whatsoever of us reopening the fundamental tenets of that deal.”

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While Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, it is the bloc’s fourth largest trading partner and is able to selectively access the EU single market.

In addition, Switzerland contributes to EU research and educational programmes and is also included within the Schengen visa-free travel areas.

However, Switzerland pays into the EU budget in order to access these privileges. The agreement negates the need for certain documentation applied to non-EU zones which ensure goods can move easily across international borders.

During Brexit negotiations, the UK was offered a similar style of trading agreement, but Chief Negotiator David Frost rejected the proposal. 

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