Gina Miller calls for a re-negotiation of Brexit deal
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Leader of the True and Fair Party Gina Miller has claimed “we need to re-negotiate” the terms of the Brexit deal to support Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Government to resolve issues surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol. But do you think the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union should be renegotiated and would you back a new Swiss-style agreement? Vote in our poll.
Ms Miller told LBC on Sunday that “all the red flags” raised during Brexit negotiations have become a reality, claiming that poor economic growth and trade barriers have damaged the reasons for leaving the EU.
She explained: “There is no concrete modelling or plan, and now all the red flags that were in the deal, and all of the realities of how integrated supply chains work, how we relied on workforces in the NHS, teaching, culture, financial services, how regular alignment actually helps inward investment when it comes to boosting growth, all of those realities are coming home to roost.
“And this is at a time when we have legally left [the European Union] in domestic and international law. So, where do we go from here? In my mind, we have to look at the negotiation clause that already exists in the treaty.”
Asked about her reasoning, Ms Miller added: “Well, the renegotiation clause, it is uncertain what that actually means. So, there is a huge issue coming up for both sides.”
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed the Withdrawal Agreement which included Northern Ireland remaining in the EU’s single market under the Northern Ireland Protocol, to uphold the Good Friday Agreement and avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland. However, the Protocol creates new trade arrangements in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Unionists argue this is undermining Northern Ireland’s position.
The UK Government is seeking unilateral power to change the Protocol, despite acknowledging that this would breach the terms of the deal if an agreement cannot be reached with the EU.
Last week Foreign Secretary James Cleverly downplayed prospects of reaching a deal on the Protocol. He told MPs in the European Scrutiny Committee that while relations with the EU were improving there was still “serious work to do”.
He added: “I don’t want people to be defeatist, but I also don’t want people to run away with the idea that we’re just on the cusp of some amazing breakthrough.”
In an effort to settle ongoing tensions, the Government is reportedly looking to make a Swiss-style negotiation with the EU. The Sunday Times reported that, behind closed doors, Mr Sunak’s Government is considering the move to help navigate trade issues over the next 10 years.
Former Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay rejected the report, telling Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme that he did not recognise it. He said: “We’ve got a Prime Minister who himself supported Brexit. I myself did and was Brexit Secretary, and worked very hard to maximise the control of our laws, our borders and our money.
“So, it’s absolutely important, particularly in those high-growth sectors, such as financial services, life sciences and the green industries, that we really use the Brexit freedoms we have. So, I don’t recognise this story at all.”
Asked whether he would support a Swiss-style relationship, he said: “Well, I didn’t support that. I want to maximise the opportunities that Brexit offers.”
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Switzerland is not in the EU but is the bloc’s fourth biggest trading partner and the nation’s economy is integrated with its members. The deal offers selective access to the single market and participation in some EU research projects. They also contribute to the EU budget and are signed up to the Schengen free travel area.
Other Brexiteers have criticised the idea with Eurosceptic MP Sir Bill Cash slamming the idea as “completely absurd”. He said: “It is inconceivable that we will consider a Swiss-style deal. The Swiss absolutely hate it. They have resisted subjugation to the EU. This is a completely absurd idea. They have been harassed and bullied by the EU for decades.”
Meanwhile, senior backbencher Peter Bone warned there is little appetite among the public for such deal. He said: “I just don’t think Conservative MPs, or the British people, would allow this because they have voted to come out. Certainly, in my own constituency, I don’t detect there’s any movement to get closer to the EU.”
Former work and pensions secretary Chloe Smith told Times Radio that seeking a new Swiss-style deal would not be a “wise path” to take at the moment.
Number 10 sources have rejected a Swiss-style agreement being on the table as “categorically untrue”.
So what do YOU think? Should Brexit deal be renegotiated? Would you back a new Swiss-style agreement with EU? Vote in our poll and join the debate in the comment section below.
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