United Kingdom signs Brexit trade continuity deal with Switzerland

Irving Hamilton
February 12, 2019

The Prime Minister will ask Parliament not to try and force an extension to Article 50 when the Commons is presented with another "neutral motion" on Brexit later this week, rather than a substantive vote to approve the Brexit deal.

That's raising questions about Mrs May's willingness to compromise with the opposition, after her letter to Jeremy Corbyn yesterday didn't rule out discussions on keeping Britain inside a customs union.

Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, described Labour's plan as a "dangerous delusion", while Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, accused Mr Corbyn of trying to trap Mrs May into a "toxic" Brexit.

"(It) is to make sure that parliamentarians have had ample opportunity to look at the deal she's putting forward before it comes to that meaningful vote".

Brexit minister Stephen Barclay will meet European Union negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday ahead of a crunch moment in parliament on Thursday, when lawmakers will try to force May to change course or give up control of the exit process.

This is of huge economic importance to United Kingdom businesses so I'm delighted to be here in Bern today, ensuring continuity for 15,000 British exporters. Not only will this help to support jobs throughout the United Kingdom but it will also be a solid foundation for us to build an even stronger trading relationship with Switzerland as we leave the EU.

Theresa May has responded to Jeremy Corbyn's letter setting out his five demands for a Brexit deal.

They have also signed a deal to preserve the rights of some 43,000 British nationals living in Switzerland and the 35,000 Swiss residing in Britain after Brexit.

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The agreement should remove the uncertainty a "hard" Brexit scenario posed for some 15,000 citizens of the three non-EU nations who live in Britain.

While Mrs May questioned the move, describing it as "unclear", she did not reject the proposal out of hand and welcomed the Labour leader's desire to leave the European Union with a deal.

Mrs May maintains it would not give Britain an independent trade policy, but Mr Corbyn says it is the best way to protect jobs.

Mrs Leadsom said: 'I think she's making quite clear that what Corbyn is demanding is actually not as good as what the Prime Minister's deal is offering.

Mr Johnson said Mrs May's priority should be to secure a time limit on the backstop - meant to prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland - before the next election scheduled for June 2022.

The Leave campaign figurehead was speaking as Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay prepared for talks with European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier as the Government stepped up efforts to secure changes to the backstop, which is created to keep the Irish border open after the UK's withdrawal.

"I think it must be pretty obvious that if you are going to have a time limit to the backstop, and I think that would be a very good thing, it's got to fall before the next election".

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