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Good morning from Edinburgh. The prime minister has made a firm statement ruling out any “Swiss-style” deal with the EU as long as he remains in office. That shouldn’t surprise us: if he failed to do so, he wouldn’t be able to stay in office. More on that below.
Inside Politics is edited by Georgina Quach. Follow Stephen on Twitter @stephenkb and please send gossip, thoughts and feedback to email@example.com.
Not a done deal
Yesterday at the CBI conference, Rishi Sunak rebutted claims from some Conservative MPs that chancellor Jeremy Hunt — who had voted Remain in 2016 — was trying to soften Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal:
“Let me be unequivocal. Under my leadership, the UK will not pursue any relationship with Europe that relies on alignment with EU rules. I voted for Brexit. I believe in Brexit. Brexit can deliver enormous benefits and opportunities for the country.”
In many ways, none of this is that deep. Sunak has long been a supporter of the UK’s exit from the EU and long believed that the ability to diverge from the EU’s rules are the biggest Brexit dividend. He also leads a party where, increasingly, hostility to any form of rules harmonisation is a precondition to leadership.
The European Research Group of hardline pro-Brexit Tory MPs is not the well-organised force it once was; Steve Baker has a junior ministerial role now, while Suella Braverman is in the Home Office, and the ERG was privately split over who to back in both leadership contests this year. But if the prime minister were to sound equivocal over Brexit, and fan the flames of rows within his party, the ERG would surely straighten up.
In many ways, Sunak’s words can best be understood as follows:
I am a Conservative prime minister in the year 2022, and I wish to remain so.
One problem for Sunak is that while he is not a…
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