A private briefing has raised concerns that the EU is secretly pursuing an aggressive agenda against the UK at the same time that it is trying to force Britain to agree to “full regulatory alignment” with Brussels and give up the opportunity to compete.
The commission yesterday denied the allegations with a spokeswoman describing them as “invented”.
However, several senior MPs told the Daily Express that the warning was issued by senior Swiss sources.
A Government minister said: “Basically they are trying to squeeze Switzerland by the *****.
“We were informed in no uncertain terms that the EU is saying to Switzerland that it cannot have a bilateral agreement with Britain. It has to choose between Britain and the EU. As things stand, obviously, it will choose the EU.”
Another MP who received the same warning said: “Obviously it is deeply concerning and this has serious implications for financial services.”
Brexiteers have reacted with fury to the briefing and warned that it puts the Brexit negotiations in question.
Tory MP Peter Bone said: “If this is true it is absolutely appalling and flies in the face of the EU’s claims that it is not trying to punish Britain for Brexit.
“The European Commission needs to come clean about what it is up to.
“Under Article 50 the EU should be negotiating in good faith but this sort of behaviour suggests that it is not.”
“There isn’t any way we could do a deal if the EU is going to act in this way. If they are making these threats to Switzerland then you can bet they are doing it with other countries too.”
Richard Tice, co-chairman of Leave Means Leave, which is supported by more than 50 Tory Parliamentarians, said: “These accusations are extremely serious and the Government should investigate as a matter of urgency.
“If the EU is pursuing a ‘punishment agenda’ and is not serious about negotiating a trade deal with Britain, then there is absolutely no reason to continue trade talks.
“Britain should instead revert to the alternative deal based on World Trade Organisation rules which is absolutely fine for the UK. This would mean no implementation period and no more British money going to fund the greedy EU.”
The warning came amid continued concern over Theresa May’s agreement to regulatory alignment and a £39billion divorce bill.
Briefings given by chief negotiator Michel Barnier have sparked fears the EU is trying to stop Britain competing against it in the global marketplace.
And there has been alarm over recent comments by Chancellor Philip Hammond that Britain will seek to continue with the European structure of tax and benefits after Brexit rather than become more competitive.
January 16th, 2018: Express