Brexit boost: How Switzerland claimed 'UK will get better deal than us'

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This is because one prominent eurosceptic in Switzerland claimed that the UK would get a much better deal than Bern gained after decades of tense exchanges. Christoph Blocher, the Swiss former MP who led the charge to keep Switzerland out of the EU in 1992, said that Project Fear was deployed in that referendum, too. One politician predicted at the time that if it didn’t join, within five years it would be begging to do so “on its knees”.

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In fact, those predictions never came to pass as “the Monday after the Sunday, the Bourse rose,” Mr Blocher recalled at the time.

As The Spectator recalled in 2016, he agreed that Britain would not get the same deal as the Swiss post-Brexit, but said: “No, you’d get a much better deal.

“I think if you [Britain] leave the EU it will be very good for you.”

In 1992, Switzerland began its application to join the EU.

However, that same year, Switzerland had a referendum on whether to join the European Economic Area (EEA) where the country narrowly decided to reject the idea.

Brexit boost: How Switzerland claimed 'UK will get better deal than us'

Brexit news: Boris and Barnier have reached stalemate (Image: getty)

Brexit boost: How Switzerland claimed 'UK will get better deal than us'

Brexit news: Switzerland held a referendum on the EEA in 1992 (Image: getty)

The result sent shockwaves through Europe, as 50.3 percent voted against the idea of joining the EEA, leaving the EU’s hopes of expansion dashed.

Not only did the Swiss public reject the EEA, but it also meant the country’s application for the EU was suspended.

Rene Felber, then the President of the Federal Council in Bern, said at the time: “This ordeal provoked the Swiss Government to suspend the application for EU membership.

“Switzerland has renounced the many political and economic opportunities opened up by the European Economic Area.

READ MORE: How Von der Leyen backed Sturgeon’s bid to stop UK exit

Brexit boost: How Switzerland claimed 'UK will get better deal than us'

Brexit news: They then held another vote on EU membership in 2001 (Image: getty)

“It has also broken with its traditional policy of rapprochement with Europe.

“We have witnessed a grave rupture between the federal authorities and the people.

“The cleavage between the French-speaking cantons and the rest of Switzerland is a matter of great concern.”

After years of tense negotiations between Brussels and Bern regarding their future relationship, Switzerland held another referendum in 2001.

The Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal for immediate membership talks with the European Union.

Members of the “New European Movement Switzerland”, which launched the initiative, expressed disappointment at the result.

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Brexit boost: How Switzerland claimed 'UK will get better deal than us'

Brexit news: Johnson wants access to European markets (Image: getty)

Brexit boost: How Switzerland claimed 'UK will get better deal than us'

Brexit news: Barnier has told the UK it ‘can’t have its cake and eat it’ (Image: getty)

They said they had not expected such a low “yes” vote.

Fifteen years later, the EU’s plans were finally dashed.

Not only did the UK vote for Brexit in June 2016, but a week before this politicians in Switzerland voted to withdraw the country’s application for membership of the EU.

Just as Mr Blocher’s prediction offered promise for the UK, analysis by Swiss politics expert – Dieter Freiburghaus – contradicts the EU’s message that the UK “can’t have its cake and eat it” in trade talks.

He told the BBC in February 2016: “Switzerland was only interested in the economic aspect of European integration, and that we got: we got access to the internal market.

So our economy had a lot of gains. We have the cake and we eat it… at the moment.”


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