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Conservative MP and former Brexit minister David Jones insisted the UK’s national interest is best served outside of Brussels. The deputy chair of the influential European Research Group (ERG) of Tory MPs added that he was “very glad” Britain opted not to be part of the EU’s future.
Mr Jones told Express.co.uk: “I think so far as we’re concerned all that we want to do is look after our own national interest.
“Our national interest is not going to be served by being tied indefinitely to EU rules and regulations.
“We want to be in a position to do free trade agreements with lots of other countries.
“And I was delighted to see that we’ve just secured one with Japan. A very important market which can only grow.
“The share of world trade that the EU accounts for is declining all the time and it will decline very rapidly now the UK has left, as we’re an important economy.
“What they’re trying to do is to turn an economic relationship into a political exercise that will result in a federal country called Europe.
“It’s as simple as that, it’s straightforward political ideology.
“I’m very glad British people were sensible enough to decide they didn’t want to continue to be part of it.”
Brexiteer Mr Jones blamed delays on striking a trade deal with the bloc on the EU trying to punish Britain for leaving.
He said: “It’s just straightforward political ideology on the part of the EU and the desire by some EU politicians to try to punish the UK for having had the gall to leave – that’s caused all the delay that we’ve seen so far.
“They’ve not regarded it as a straightforward economic exercise, it’s an exercise in political ideology and they’ve been trying to punish us for daring to leave.”
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Mr Jones’s comments come as intensive talks between the UK and the EU are continuing this weekend.
Negotiations led by Lord Frost and Michel Barnier resumed on Thursday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the UK would prepare for no deal unless there was a major change in approach from Brussels.
Time is running out to reach an agreement, with the transition period coming to a close on December 31.
Both sides previously claimed a deal would need to be reached by mid-October to be in place for the end of the year – but fresh talks are now underway.
Outstanding sticking points include fishing rights, the governance of any deal and the level playing field, aimed at preventing unfair competition.
In a major Brexit boost, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss on Friday signed a free trade agreement with Japan.
She hailed the moment as the dawn of a new era of free trade.
The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa) was agreed in principle last month.
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