International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the agreement would provide a “solid foundation” for a post-Brexit trading relationship. Trade with Switzerland is worth around £32 billion a year and the rollover of the arrangements come as Dr Fox is under pressure to secure continuity for other existing EU deals. Mr Fox said: “Switzerland is one of the most valuable trading partners that we are seeking continuity for, accounting for more than £32 billion worth of trade a year.
“This is of huge economic importance to UK businesses so I’m delighted to be here in Bern today, ensuring continuity for 15,000 British exporters.
“Not only will this help to support jobs throughout the UK but it will also be a solid foundation for us to build an even stronger trading relationship with Switzerland as we leave the EU.”
Mr Fox was in Switzerland to sign a continuity trade deal with Swiss Economy Minister Guy Parmelin, to ensure trading relations can continue with as little disruption as possible if Britain leaves the bloc on March 29 without a deal.
He said about 12 percent of Britain’s trade was currently covered by EU free trade deals, and Switzerland accounted for about a fifth of that.
Mr Fox said: “We are confident that we will be able to maintain a very high proportion of that continuity of trade. Of course it’s always dependent on other partners wanting to retain that continuity too.”
It comes as Mrs May seeks a compromise with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit.
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Brexit latest: Juncker is set to travel to Ireland on Brexit day
The Tory leader offered further talks with Labour in an attempt to secure cross-party support for an exit deal.
The Prime Minister questioned Mr Corbyn’s key call for the UK to remain in a customs union with Brussels but offered concessions in other areas and said she wanted talks between Labour and Tory teams “as soon as possible”.
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11.42am update: May to make Brexit statement tomorrow
Downing Street announced Prime Minister Theresa May will give a statement to Parliament on Tuesday on the latest developments in Brexit talks.
The Tory leader had been expected to deliver her statement on Wednesday ahead of a Commons debate on Thursday, but her official spokesman said the earlier timing would “give Parliament a couple of days to digest the content”.
Mrs May’s spokesman said she will take whatever steps are necessary for Britain to leave the EU on time.
The spokesman said the Government will be bringing a vote on the Brexit deal to parliament as soon as possible – but it will not be this week
11.33am update: Michel Barnier set to meet Donald Tusk
The EU chiefs will presumably meet to discuss reopening Brexit talks
10.39am update: Britain to flex its military muscle after it leaves EU
Defence Minister Gavin Williamson said: “Since the new global great game will be played on a global playing field, we must be prepared compete for our interests and our values far, far from home.
“That is why ‘Global Britain’ needs to be much more than a pithy phrase: it has to be about action, and our armed forces represent the best of ‘Global Britain’ in action.”
Brexit latest: Liam Fox says Brexit cannot be blamed for the economic slowdown
10.33am update: Britain will ‘redefine its role after Brexit – Gavin Williamson
During a speech at the Royal United Services Institute in central London, Mr Williamson said “Britain has its greatest opportunity in 50 years to redefine our role”.
The defence minister added: “As we leave the European Union, and with the world changing so rapidly it is up to us to seize the opportunities that Brexit brings.
“We will build new alliances, rekindle old ones and most importantly make it clear that we are the country that will act when required.
“We should be the nation that people turn to when the world needs leadership.
“A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality and increase our mass.
“As we look to life beyond Brexit, I believe it is incumbent on us all to consider the role of defence in our national life.
“Defence has always been the first and most vital duty of Government, but now we have an unparalleled opportunity to consider how we can project and maximise our influence around the world in the months and years to come.”
10.28am update: Liam Fox says Brexit cannot be blamed for economic slowdown
He said the idea Britain’s exit from the EU is the only factor in GDP slowdown was missing thepoint, and instability in China was affecting global growth.
On the options of a second Brexit referendum, he said: “The chances of having a second referendum are as close to nil as I could imagine.”
10.24am update: UK and Switzerland sign trade agreement on terms after Brexit
Liam Fox signed an agreement with Switzerland to continue trading on preferential terms after Brexit, protecting a trade relationship worth £32billion ($ 41.41 billion).
The formal signing of the deal, on which agreement had previously been announced, is one of only handful of concrete steps Britain has made towards ensuring that all the trade deals it currently benefits from as an EU member will continue after it leaves the bloc next month.
Mr Fox said: “Not only will this help to support jobs throughout the UK but it will also be a solid foundation for us to build an even stronger trading relationship with Switzerland as we leave the EU.”
Brexit latest: Theresa May arrives at Downing Street
9.59am update: Boris Johnson accuses Corbyn of Brexit U-Turn
Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s clear that Jeremy Corbyn… he’s done a complete U-turn.
“He now wants to frustrate Brexit very largely by staying in a permanent customs union.”
On the Northern Ireland backstop, Mr Johnson said: “The argument is now about how to get out of the backstop. And how to make sure that the UK isn’t locked in that prison of the customs union.
“I think that you would need to have a time limit.”
Asked if changes to the backstop proposals could come in a separate codicil to the Withdrawal Agreement, Mr Johnson said: “I don’t think that would be good enough.”
On a reshaping of the backstop, Mr Johnson said: “It would have to give the United Kingdom a UK-sized exit from the backstop.
“We would have to be able to get out by a certain time and we would have to be able to get out of our own volition.
“The most promising way forward is to do what is called the Malthouse compromise.”
Pressed on suggestions sterling could fall by 20 percent due to Brexit, Mr Johnson said: “The pound will go where it will.”
Brexit latest: Theresa May met Leo Varadkar in Ireland over the weekend
9.48am update: Labour and Tories to meet over Brexit
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg tweeted: “Lidington has now asked Starmer for talks – both sides very unsure of the other, but it’s ‘always better to have a conversation’ – talks won’t be today, Starmer is in Dublin – no date set either for next May/Corbyn encounter.”
9.06am update: GBP Sterling DOWN against euro and dollar
Pound Sterling has already fallen 0.17 percent to 1.1412 after opening at 1.1426. The British currency has suffered similar deficit against the US dollar, falling 0.19 percent to 1.2920 after opening at 1.2946.
8.31am update: Italy in threat to DESTROY Brussels unity with plan for OWN Brexit talks
Italy is seeking “closest possible ties” with the UK and is ready to break up the unity of the European Union by striking a bilateral deal with London to protect its citizens by securing trade deals in Britain.
As Brexit day approaches, the eurosceptic Lega-Five Star Movement coalition is growing increasingly worried about the consequences a no deal scenario could have on Italy’s fragile economy.
This pushed the populist government sitting in Rome to draw up emergency plans to safeguard financial stability and save trade with London from disruption in case of a no-deal Brexit.
Brexit latest: May met Jean-Claude Juncker for a tense showdown
7.53am update: Juncker’s Commission ‘UNCONCERNED’ by no deal risks
Jean-Claude Juncker and his colleagues are not overly concerned about “leaving a big old mess” in Europe if Brexit talks end in no deal, EU expert James Crisp claimed.
Mr Juncker warned member states the risk of a no deal Brexit increased after the House of Commons voted down the withdrawal agreement Theresa May struck with the European Union in November.
But while repeatedly expressing dismay at Britain’s decision to quit the bloc, the top eurocrat and other members of the Commission are allegedly unconcerned with the aftermath of an abrupt Brexit as their time in power draws to a close.
EU expert James Crisp told LBC: “In terms of the Martin Selmayrs and Michel Barniers of this world if there is a no deal Brexit, it’s the European Commission that will have to carry the can with the EU27.”
7.48am update: Juncker to spend Brexit day with Leo Varadkar
The European Commission president will spend March 29 in Ireland to show solidarity with the Irish people, it has been claimed.
It comes amid a Brexit stonewall from both sides as Mr Varadkar insists plans to remove the controversial backstop from the agreement will not be accepted, and Brussels has rejected calls to re-open negotiations on the matter.
Prime Minister Theresa May held talks with the Taoiseach in Dublin over the weekend to discuss the border row, which has proved a major stumbling block in negotiations.
Their meeting was understood to be focused on seeking to improve Anglo-Irish relations that have been soured in the dispute about the backstop proposals for guaranteeing no physical customs checks on the border with Northern Ireland.
A European Commission spokesman told the Daily Mail Mr Juncker’s plans for travel will be announced a week in advance.