Rishi Sunak firmly rejected claims he’s looking to closely align Britain to EU rules this morning as he hailed the “enormous benefits” from Brexit. The Prime Minister ruled out reopening Brexit negotiations with Brussels as he addressed the CBI conference in Birmingham this morning.
He said: “Let me be unequivocal about this: Under my leadership, the United Kingdom will not pursue any relationship with Europe that relies on alignment with EU laws.
“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”
He added: “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.”
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He took the firm stance after reports over the weekend suggested Britain was looking to adopt a Swiss-style model of trading with the EU.
Such an arrangement would mean paying into the EU budget, accepting greater alignment with Brussels rules, and accepting judgements from European judges.
The Prime Minister also hit back at the CBI’s calls for more migration from the continent warning that voters’ desire for more control of immigration must be respected.
“Part of the reason we ended free movement of labour was to rebuild public consent in our immigration system,” he said.
“If we’re going to have a system that allows businesses to access the best and brightest from around the world, we need to do more to give the British people trust and confidence that the system works and is fair.
“That means tackling illegal migration. And that’s what I’m determined to do.”
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So far this year more than 40,000 people have arrived in the UK illegally by crossing the English Channel in small boats.
Despite efforts to curb migrants making the dangerous journey, the number of successful crossings have steadily risen over the past five years.
Mr Sunak rejected demands for more immigration after the head of the CBI, Tony Danker, suggested more workers from abroad would help boost the UK economy.
He told Sky News this morning: “This should be a very simple system: Number one, what are the jobs we need to fill? Number two, have we got British workers to fill them? Then number three, if we don’t, let’s use immigration on a fixed-term basis.
“Just fixed-term visas to plug the gaps until British workers are ready to do the jobs.
“That is not how our immigration system works today and that is why it’s not helping us with our growth problem.”
But Mr Sunak said controlling inflation was the biggest priority for putting the economy on a stable footing for the future.
He said: “The best way to help people is by stopping mortgages, rents and food prices from spiralling out of control.
“Re-establishing stability is the critical first step.
“But there’s so much more we need to do. I’m not just here to solve problems, I want to build a better country where we get inflation down and grow the economy, where we cut NHS waiting times and improve the quality of care, and where we invest more in schools and give every child a world-class education.”