PRIME Minister Rishi Sunak has insisted there will not be a realignment with EU rules following claims that senior government figures are considering a Swiss-style relationship with the bloc.

Following reports in The Sunday Times, UK Government ministers began rubbishing the claims, forcing the PM to address the issue during his speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in Birmingham.

It was claimed that senior government sources have suggested pursuing the policy to enable frictionless trade over the next decade - but added that this would not extend to a return to freedom of movement.

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During Boris Johnson’s tenure as PM, both he and Lord Frost, then chief Brexit negotiator, ruled out pursuing a Swiss-style deal in 2020.

The SNP has said the PM's speech shows Sunak is "doubling down on the delusion of Brexit". 

Tory rebels have drawn parallels between the policy suggestion and the ill-fated Chequers deal brokered by Theresa May in 2018 which would ultimately lead to her resignation. 

And now, with a civil war again brewing in the Tory party amongst those who would like greater links with the EU and hardline Brexiteers who are fiercely opposed to the move, Sunak said he was “unequivocal” that there will be no realignment with EU laws and regulations.

He told the CBI conference: “I voted for Brexit, I believe in Brexit and I know that Brexit can deliver, and is already delivering, enormous benefits and opportunities for the country – migration being an immediate one where we have proper control of our borders and are able to have a conversation with the country about the type of migration that we want and need.

“We weren’t able to do that inside the European Union, at least now we are in control of it.

“When it comes to trade, it means that we can open up our country to the world’s fastest-growing markets. I’ve just got back from the G20 in Indonesia, we’re talking about signing CPTPP, where we’ve got some of the most exciting, fastest-growing economies in the world and we can become a part of that trading bloc, that’s a fantastic opportunity for the UK.”

Sunak added that the UK could also have “regulatory regimes that are fit for the future that ensure that this country can be leaders in those industries that are going to create the jobs and the growth of the future”.

Downing Street also insisted on Monday that Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt were “absolutely” in agreement on Brexit policy.

On Friday, Hunt pledged to remove the “vast majority of trade barriers” with the EU to boost growth, in an apparent call for closer ties with the bloc.

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Despite admitting the Brexit deal created damaging trade barriers with the EU, the Chancellor rejected the prospect of rejoining the single market.

On Monday, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Hunt had been clear “we will pursue any options outside of the single market” and “you have got the very clear comments from the Prime Minister this morning”.

Former Brexit negotiator Frost said that any Swiss-style approach or similar would be “quite unacceptable”.

He said: “Boris Johnson and I fought very hard to avoid any such requirements in 2020 and ensure the UK could set its own laws, and we should not contemplate giving this away in future.”

The National: Whitford said Sunak had doubled down on the delusion of BrexitWhitford said Sunak had doubled down on the delusion of Brexit

The SNP's Europe spokesperson, Dr Philippa Whitford MP, said: "The Tories' extreme Brexit has been an unmitigated disaster – hammering the UK economy which is lagging behind our neighbours, hitting businesses and trade, and playing a major role in labour shortages facing the UK.

"The CBI has raised concerns over Brexit and impact on immigration, the OBR forecast a hit to GDP and trade due to Brexit, a Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member told MPs that Brexit has added 6 per cent to UK food prices, and Bank of England Governor warned 'Britain is suffering worse economic performance than its rivals because of Brexit'.

"Rather than heeding the warnings, Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer have instead doubled down on the delusion of Brexit. The reality is that Brexit doesn't work.

"With both Labour and the Tories committed to the damage of Brexit, the only route to escape its long-term harm and rejoin the largest single market in the world – a market seven times greater than the UK – is to become an independent country."

What would a Swiss-style deal with the EU look like?

SWITZERLAND is the bloc’s fourth biggest trading partner and has its economy closely integrated with EU member states, but is not part of the union.

The unique deal allows the Swiss government to access the single market, participate in EU education and research programmes, and is part of the Schengen free travel area.

Switzerland also contributes to the EU budget and the agreement allows for smooth trade of goods across borders with the removal of all document, identity and physical checks.

The complicated relationship means that on some occasions Switzerland has to sign off on package policy deals from the EU which include parts of legislation the country is opposed to. 

Brussels’ Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic offered a Swiss-style trading agreement last June, but the UK, led by Frost, rejected it because it required regulatory alignment.