Senior figures in Rishi Sunak’s Government are reportedly planning to move Britain into a Swiss-style relationship with the European Union.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt signalled last week that Mr Sunak’s administration intends to break ranks with Boris Johnson’s approach by removing the majority of trade barriers with the bloc.
Now, according to The Sunday Times, senior government sources have suggested that pursuing frictionless trade means moving towards a Swiss-style agreement with the EU.
It is understood they would not return to freedom of movement, the paper reported.
Downing Street sources rejected the report on Saturday but The Sunday Times suggested that behind closed doors some in government have indicated that the UK could make the move.
A source told the paper: “It’s obviously something the EU would never offer us upfront because they would say you are trying to have your cake and eat it but the reason I think we will get it is because it is overwhelmingly in the businesses interests on both sides.”
Switzerland and the EU have a close economic relationship based on a series of bilateral agreements, giving the country direct access to parts of the EU’s internal market including the free movement of people.
The model, however, requires provisions such as more liberal EU migration, and payments to the EU budget.
These provisions would be redlines for hard line Brexiteers, particularly those who are members of the European Research Group.
Simon Clarke, the former levelling up secretary, was among those to criticise any suggestion that the UK could pursue a Swiss-style arrangement on Saturday night.
The Tory MP tweeted: “I very much hope and believe this isn’t something under consideration. We settled the question of leaving the European Union, definitively, in 2019.”
Press Association contributed to this report.