Switzerland to sign deal with UK allowing free travel for professional workers


Switzerland is set to sign off on a deal with the UK this afternoon allowing professional workers to travel freely between the two countries after Britain leaves the EU.

The agreement will mean around 383,000 Brits who regularly make business trips to the country will not need work permits to keep doing so post-Brexit.

Switzerland is the UK’s fourth-biggest trading partner, accounting for 3.3 percent of total British trade.

Trade secretary Liz Truss and her Swiss counterpart Guy Parmelin are expected to sign the agreement in the next fortnight in London, with the deal set to take effect on 1 January — once the UK has officially left the bloc.

It comes after the Swiss government last month allocated 3,500 work permits to let employers recruit staff from the UK to “ensure the required flexibility for Swiss business” post-Brexit.

“This is intended to mitigate the consequences for the economy… of an abrupt change in the status of British citizens from persons benefiting from the freedom of movement to third-country nationals,” the Bern government said in a statement.

The UK permit contingent will initially apply for one year and will be released to Swiss administrations every three months.

The current bilateral Swiss–EU Agreement on the free movement of persons (AFMP) will cease to apply to British nationals when the UK formally leaves the bloc on 31 December.

Time is running short for Britain to secure a trade deal with the EU ahead of the transition period deadline. 

The latest Brexit talks between the UK and EU last night “did not go well”, according to reports, after British officials accused French President Emmanuel Macron of making fresh demands at the eleventh hour.

Macron is understood to have remained unwavering in his demand that France preserves a substantial portion of existing fishing rights in British waters once the UK leaves the bloc.

He has vowed to protect French fishermen, who are expected to lose a significant part of their quota from 1 January as part of any Brexit trade deal.

Hopes had been brewing within Westminster that a trade deal between the UK and EU was imminent, but Macron’s demands are said to have “destabilized” the roadmap.

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