British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has ruled out any Swiss-style alignment with EU laws to strike a trade deal with the bloc, promising instead that existing Brexit deals could “bring enormous benefits to the country. “.
Speaking at the CBI’s annual conference in Birmingham on Monday, Sunak came under pressure to meet two key trade demands aimed at opening up trade with the EU and allowing greater immigration to tackle labor shortages. -work.
Downing Street was forced to play down reports over the weekend that the UK was considering a Swiss-style trading relationship with the EU.
Sunak said, “Let me be unequivocal. Under my leadership, the UK will not pursue any relationship with Europe that is based on alignment with EU rules. I voted for Brexit. I believe in Brexit. Brexit can bring huge benefits and opportunities for the country.
He highlighted migration as one of the areas where the UK has benefited from Brexit, saying “we have our borders properly controlled…we are in control”.
Business regulation would also improve after leaving the EU, he said. “We need future-ready regulatory regimes that ensure this country can be a leader in the industries that will create the jobs and growth of the future. And having the regulatory freedom to do so is an important Brexit opportunity.
Sunak said the UK could now do trade deals elsewhere, pointing to talks to sign the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which could open up duty-free trade with Indo countries. -Peaceful.
As the opposition Labor Party goes on a charm offensive to win over British industry, Sunak pledged the Conservatives would remain the business party: “It’s business that creates the wealth and the jobs that the country has need. There’s so much more than that [the government] can do.”
Addressing the Prime Minister, CBI chief Tony Danker called on Sunak to focus on the country’s economic needs rather than political ‘hurdles’, including allowing more immigration to ease labor shortages and improving trade with the EU.
Danker told ministers they should also introduce tax incentives to support investment in the UK to offset the rise in corporation tax to 25%.
As chancellor, Sunak had consulted on a replacement scheme for the Super Deduction, which allows tax breaks on capital expenditures, which ends in April.
But on Monday the prime minister dodged questions about whether he would consider a new investment incentive to replace the super deduction next year, instead pointing to existing schemes such as the annual investment allowance.
Sunak promised to “ignite the innovation engine” of the UK and pledged to support innovative businesses and entrepreneurs.
Last week, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt signaled a new government industrial focus on five key industries: digital technology, life sciences, green industries, financial services and advanced manufacturing.
Hunt also pledged to maintain levels of government spending on research and development, but shocked the start-up community by cutting widely used small business tax breaks that have helped boost innovation in the UK. .
Tech founders and chief scientists have attacked the plans – which have been touted as an attempt to reduce misuse of the system – as a step backwards if the UK is serious about growing business in important industries.
On Monday, Sunak said the UK would have the “most attractive visa regime in the world” for entrepreneurs and skilled tech workers.
He also pledged to draw up plans to help energy-intensive businesses, with government support due to end in March next year. But he said aid would be targeted to those most in need of support.
Sunak said he knows how “difficult” it has been for energy-intensive businesses. But he added that it was “fair and responsible to adjust how this support works. It will be more targeted to businesses that need our help. »
He added: ‘We recognize a particular problem with a group of highly energy dependent industries which we need to ensure we have a plan for and you can expect the Chancellor to address.