Minister denies Government is to develop a closer, ‘Swiss-style’ EU relationship

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The government is NOT pursuing a closer relationship with the EU, immigration minister Robert Jenrick has insisted.

Asked about reports that Rishi Sunak’s government would pursue a Swiss-style relationship with the EU, he told GB News this morning (Monday): “I don’t know where that story came from but it’s completely untrue.”

Mr Jenrick said: “We have no intention of pursuing that kind of arrangement. There are respectable arguments either way, but we have a settled position now as a country. And we reached an agreement with the European Union in 2019, and 2020. And we’re moving forward on that basis.

“Of course, there are opportunities now to improve our trading relationship, as there are to improve our security and our immigration relationship with the European Union. But we’re not interested in reopening the fundamental position that we reached with the EU a few years ago.

“We’re much more focused now on the opportunities that we can find as a country, as indeed the Chancellor and the Prime Minister set out in the budget, looking at how we can improve financial services, life sciences, other economic relationships, and take advantage of the freedoms that we have as a country now we’ve left the European Union.”

Asked about economic growth in an interview with Isabel Webster and Martin Daubney on GB News, he continued: “I don’t agree that the budget was silent on the issue of growth. Tackling inflation is the foundation of everything that gives us financial security that enables people to pay their mortgage with the lowest possible interest rate, it enables businesses to be able to borrow without paying higher rates.

“Unless we have that financial security and stability, we won’t be able to get the economy firing on all cylinders. And that is what the budget set out to achieve.

“It was also a budget, in which you’ve invested over £500 billion  in our infrastructure, new trains and railways and hundreds of millions more in r&d, helping us to be a world leading science country.”

On migration, he said: “I think the British public wants us to bring net migration down. The last year has been an exceptional one. We’ve seen over 150,000 visas issued for Ukrainians to take refuge here. And we’ve seen thousands of students and expatriates return to the UK, post-Covid.

“But in the medium term, we want to get migration down and there’s five million economically inactive people in this country alone, including over half a million who left the workforce as a result of Covid. And so employers should really be looking to the domestic market first, and we in the government to prioritise the investment in education and skills and tackle key labour shortages here.”

He added: “We are all in agreement in the Conservative Party, we believe in strong borders and controlled migration and we’re deeply concerned about the number of people crossing the Channel.

“People should not be making that perilous journey. These are illegal immigrants. And we can see the difference between those fleeing genuine persecution, human rights abuses around the world and economic migrants coming from countries such as Albania, which are demonstrably safe countries.

“We’re taking action on many different fronts and the Home Secretary and I are working round the clock to tackle this. I think the new deal with France will make a difference. I don’t want to over state that because as you say we’ve had In agreements in the past, but it does do two useful things.

“Firstly, it means more French officers on those beaches in northern France intercepting the boats today, they intercept about 40%. That’s going to rise significantly with a 40% increase in the number of officers.

“And secondly, and very importantly, there will now be British personnel in a joint control room in France using all the intelligence that we gather from our police and security services, people in organisations like GCHQ, ensuring that information is passed to the French in real-time.”

He added: “And we can watch and help them to get on the ground. Bust those people smuggling gangs, capture the boats, intercept the crews and the migrants as they’re leaving the beaches.

“And so I think it will make a difference. But you have to view it as just one part of a broader campaign. And we are working with the Prime Minister on every front we can to tackle the issue.”

He told GB News: “Well, I agree that the public wants to see action, not words. And that is exactly what we’re setting out to do. This is a very complex issue.

“All countries around the world are facing this in a global migration crisis and that’s one of the reasons why the Prime Minister has been raising it with his international partners first in Egypt and now latterly at the G&.

“But what Suella Braverman and I are going to do is focus on a number of different fronts, we are going to be pushing the diplomatic front, we are going to be looking if there are legal changes that we need to make here in the UK to beef up our laws, we are working with countries which are safe, like Albania.

“And we’re also going to make it harder for people to work here in the UK by tackling illegal employers and that links back to the discussion we had earlier about fraud. We need to make sure that companies employing people against the law or committing fraud really get the full force of the law bearing down on them.

“It’s not going to be an easy situation to tackle but we, the Conservative Party, the Home Secretary and I are fully focused on it as one of our key priorities of the government.”

Source: GB News

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