Gina Miller has insisted “we need to re-negotiate” the terms of the Brexit deal as Rishi Sunak’s Government continues to struggle with the issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Speaking to LBC, Ms Miller said “all the red flags” raised during the Brexit discussions have become a reality, suggesting that poor UK growth and complex trade barriers have sullied the reasoning behind leaving the European Union. In an attempt to fix the prevailing issues, it has been reported that the Government is looking for a Swiss-style negotiation with the European Union that could help avoid the current barriers to trade.
Ms Miller said: “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 why she thought that would be helpful, Ms Miller added: “Well, the renegotiation clause, it’s uncertain what that actually means. So, there is a huge issue coming up for both sides.”
While departure from the European Union was ostensibly achieved under Boris Johnson, the issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol has prevented a total exit.
Negotiations have broken down, leaving the Northern Ireland Government unable to form an Executive and trade relations complex.
Though Ireland, as part of the Union, has access to its single market, Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom and, thus, trade between the two nations and the rest of the UK has become difficult.
Negotiations aim to secure a deal in which Northern Ireland is able to trade with Ireland without being prejudiced by trade barriers, without the rest of the UK being adversely affected.
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Ms Miller’s comments come as the Sunday Times reported Rishi Sunak’s Government is considering putting the UK on the road to a Swiss-style relationship with the EU, which is one option that could help navigate the difficult protocol problem.
The move could take place over the next decade as the Government eyes up a closer relationship with the EU that avoids the current barriers to trade.
Any such shift, only a few years after Boris Johnson secured a deal with the EU after years of back-and-forth negotiations, would likely inflame backbench Tory Brexiteers.
Downing Street sources on Saturday evening had rejected the report, with health secretary Steve Barclay echoing that on Sunday as he toured broadcast studios.
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The former Brexit secretary told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme he did not recognise such a report.
The Times suggested that – behind closed doors – some in Government have indicated the pursuit of a frictionless trading relationship with the bloc requires moving to a Swiss-style arrangement over the next 10 years. According to the paper, this would not extend to a return to freedom of movement.
“We’ve got a Prime Minister who himself supported Brexit. I myself did and was Brexit secretary, and worked very hard to maximise our control of our laws, our borders and our money,” Mr Barclay said.
“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 if he could 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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