I’m in Switzerland at present, learning all about how the British Leave vote screwed the Swiss. That’s not the only reason I’m here, just to be clear, but it’s an interesting aspect of being in Bern at the moment.
As some of you may know, Switzerland had a referendum on whether to limit freedom of movement from the EU in 2014, one that decided in favour of limitation. Hold on, some of the more Brexity yet ill informed amongst you might be thinking right now, how did EU freedom of movement rules affect the Swiss who have never been part of the EU, so much so they had to have a referendum on stopping it? Let’s go over this again: in order to get access to the single market, the Swiss had to allow freedom of movement from all EEA countries, just as if they were an EU member. That’s the deal. Has been for everyone, always.
In fact it’s so much the deal that the Swiss were seemingly closing in on a way round their constitutional crisis when along came the Leave vote – and the Swiss are back to square one with the EU. Why? Because the EU doesn’t want to give the Swiss too good a deal now given they’d have to give the UK something just as good. And they are determined not to let the UK get a good deal.
I bring this up only because it is a reality check on the whole Brexiteer narrative of “they are going to give us a great deal in the end, you’ll see”. The EU are so determined to screw the Brits now, they’ll happily screw the Swiss first in order to ensure that it happens. So all of the sunny skies stuff you’re hearing from Boris and Davis suddenly sounds even more ridiculous.
Remainers are being accused of doing down Britain’s chances in the EU discussions post-Leave vote and thus being the real reason for things like the pound falling. All I can say from what I’ve seen here in Bern is that it’s one hell of a bluff Brussels is making if they are messing with the Swiss just to then mess with British diplomats’ heads. You know, it could just be possible that they aren’t going to bend on the freedom of movement if we want access to the single market thing (or even a non-terrible deal of any sort) after all.