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Brexit news latest: Sunak quashes talk of Swiss-style deal and insists current plan ‘delivering’

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Rishi Sunak says Brexit is in UK’s long-term interest

Rishi Sunak has rejected any move to rebuild damaged trade with the EU that would undermine the UK’s freedoms, insisting Brexit is “delivering” for the country.

Speaking to the CBI conference, the prime minister was asked how he would deliver on the chancellor’s claim that the “vast majority” of barriers – blamed for a 15 per cent plunge in trade – can be removed.

Jeremy Hunt‘s comments have alarmed many Tories, despite the government rejecting suggestions that it will pursue a closer “Swiss-style” agreement with Brussels.

But Mr. Sunak insisted: “Let me be unequivocal about this. Under my leadership, the UK will not pursue any relationship with Europe that relies on alignment with EU laws.”

Earlier the CBI set a collision course with the government after its director general, Tony Danker, urged politicians to end rows over Brexit and plug labor shortages with immigration.

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MPs condemn FA for ‘crumbling’ over OneLove armband U-turn

MPs have criticized both the FA and FIFA after England and Wales decided not to wear OneLove armbands at the World Cup 2022 in Qatar over the threat of sporting sanctions.

Politicians and fan groups have also expressed “contempt” for FIFA after plans to wear the armbands were dropped under threat of yellow cards for captains Harry Kane and Gareth Bale.

Our political correspondent Adam Forrest reports:

Matt Mathers21 November 2022 12:45

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Sunak: Innovation will ease pressure on labor shortages

Rishi Sunak said an increase in productivity through developments in robotics and automation could reduce some pressure on the labor market.

“If we can get that right with more robotics and automation, then we can drive up productivity,” he said.

“It reduces some of the pressure on labor, creates good jobs for people.

“It’s something that we lag behind in – I think there was a study from the Robotics Federation, or whoever it was, a couple of years ago which showed that we under-index for the amount of automation and robotics, even when you control for the sectoral mix of our economy.

“So that, to me, is actually low-hanging fruit when we talk about how do we drive up growth, we’ve got an opportunity there to do it, and to do it relatively quickly, I hope.”

Matt Mathers21 November 2022 12:30

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Sunak: Tell us about ‘pinch points’ in attracting talent

Rishi Sunak has urged businesses to keep ministers informed on the “pinch points” holding the UK back when it comes to talent acquisition.

Asked what his message would be to firms attending his speech at the CBI annual conference, he said: “The first is to continue investing in R&D, because that’s something where we need to do a better job of.

“Ultimately, it’s you, it’s free enterprise, it’s the private sector that (drives) growth. And I think we need to do a better job of investing in R&D.

“The government’s going to do its bit but that’s not sufficient. We need all of you to keep investing in innovation and prioritizing it in the way that we have.

“The second thing is around regulation … we need your ideas. So, when it comes to the industries of the future, where you’re all working, you’re going to be far faster than someone sitting in Whitehall to see where the new barriers are or where the regulations aren’t keeping pace with what you’re trying to do.

“The third thing is on talent. I think when I talk to all of you the number one thing you all talk to me about is talent, is how do we get access to the skilled people we need? But what I need from you is the specific areas, the pinch points, that are holding our growth back.”

Matt Mathers21 November 2022 12:15

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Sunak: Conservatives are party of business

Rishi Sunak said the Conservatives are the party of business.

Asked if he could say this explicitly during a question-and-answer session at the CBI annual conference, he said: “Yes, unequivocally, unequivocally.

“It’s important that the government creates the conditions for stability, for making sure that we tackle inflation.

“But that’s just the foundation. Now all of us collectively need to build on that foundation.”

He said the government’s role is to “unlock all of the things that we want you to do and what you all want to do”, adding: “Ultimately it’s business that creates the wealth, the jobs, that this country needs – it’s not Government that does that.”

He went on: “I think you’ve seen from my track record as chancellor that I stood by all of you, I stood by business, because I knew how important it was to our country.

“I knew how important it was to (safeguard) people’s jobs and their livelihoods. That’s my track record as your chancellor, and you can rest assured that as your prime minister I will continue to build on that legacy and ensure that we make this country one of the most exciting, dynamic places for businesses small and large anywhere in the world. That’s my ambition.”

Matt Mathers21 November 2022 12:00

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Sunak: I’ll protect free at point of use NHS

Earlier Sunak said he would protect an NHS that is “free at the point of use”.

“We also need to create a culture of innovation in our public services. I grew up in an NHS family – it’s in my blood.

“And as your prime minister, I will always protect an NHS free at the point of use.”

He added: “We also need to radically innovate how we do things. That’s how we’ll really improve the quality and speed of care, and make the money we invest in the NHS go further.

“To do that, we’re opening community diagnostic centers to deliver millions more tests, checks and scans close to home, and without having to arrange multiple appointments.

“Our new elective surgical hubs will offer hundreds of thousands of patients quicker access to the most common procedures.

“But we need to go further still. We want to give patients a genuine choice about where and when to access care. And those choices need to be informed by radical transparency about the performance of our healthcare system.”

Matt Mathers21 November 2022 11:45

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Sunak: No return to EU alignment

Sunak has insisted that he would not allow any return to alignment with EU rules.

“Let me be unequivocal about this: Under my leadership, the United Kingdom will not pursue any relationship with Europe that relies on alignment with EU laws,” he told the CBI conference in Birmingham.

“I voted for Brexit, I believe in Brexit and I know that Brexit can deliver, and is already delivering, enormous benefits and opportunities for the country – migration being an immediate one where we have proper control of our borders and are able to have a conversation with the country about the type of migration that we want and need.

“We weren’t able to do that inside the European Union, at least now we are in control of it.

“When it comes to trade, it means that we can open up our country to the world’s fastest-growing markets. I’ve just got back from the G20 in Indonesia, we’re talking about signing CPTPP, where we’ve got some of the most exciting, fastest-growing economies in the world and we can become a part of that trading bloc, that’s a fantastic opportunity for the UK.”

The UK could also have “regulatory regimes that are fit for the future that ensure that this country can be leaders in those industries that are going to create the jobs and the growth of the future”.

Rev. Merrick, our deputy politics editor, has the full story:

Matt Mathers21 November 2022 11:28

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Sunak: We’ll create one of the world’s most attractive visa schemes

Rishi Sunak has said the UK would create “one of the world’s most attractive visa regimes for entrepreneurs and highly-skilled people” as he set out plans for artificial intelligence experts to come to the country,

The PM said: “We cannot allow the world’s top AI talent to be drawn to America or China.

“That’s why – building on the AI ​​scholarships and masters conversion courses I instigated as Chancellor – we are launching a program to identify and attract the world’s top 100 young talents on AI.”

They said “part of the reason we ended the free movement of labor was to rebuild public consent in our immigration system”.

“If we’re going to have a system that allows businesses to access the best and brightest from around the world, we need to do more to give the British people trust and confidence that the system works and is fair.

“That means tackling illegal migration.”

Matt Mathers21 November 2022 11:19

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Sunak: We’re committed to Brexit freedoms

Rishi Sunak said the UK is committed to using its “Brexit freedoms” to drive innovation.

The PM said he wants to lead a country with a “culture of innovation” that “permeates every aspect of what we do”.

On how that can be achieved, he said: “First, we need to harness innovation to drive economic growth. Second, we need to embed innovation in our public services, especially our NHS. Third, we need to teach people the skills to become great innovators.”

He said it is “private-sector innovations” that “really drive growth”, adding: “You’d expect me to say that, I’m a Conservative, but it’s true.

“That’s why the autumn statement cut taxes to encourage larger companies to do more research and development. It’s why we want to allow businesses to claim R&D tax relief on pure maths and cloud computing.

“It’s why we’re absolutely committed to using our new Brexit freedoms to create the most pro-innovation regulatory environment in the world in sectors like life sciences, financial services, AI and data.”

Matt Mathers21 November 2022 11:11

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Sunak – innovation will be ‘defining focus of government’

Sunak says innovation – the theme of today’s speech – will be the key to unlocking growth for the UK.

It will be a “defining focus” of his government, he adds.

“Innovation is much more about new ideas” rather than “the latest gadgets”.

Matt Mathers21 November 2022 11:00

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No going back on free movement – Labour

Labor would not seek a return to free movement if it forms the next government, a shadow minister has said.

Tulip Siddiq was asked about reports that the UK could pursue a Swiss-style deal with the EU to overcome trade barriers.

She said her party “wouldn’t go back to the things that have already been decided”.

Matt Mathers21 November 2022 10:55

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