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Roger Koeppel, who is a member of Switzerland’s National Council as well as the Swiss People’s Party, said people in his country admired the UK for taking a stand against Brussels – but warned the EU would be looking for payback. Mr Koeppel, speaking in advance of a crunch referendum on Switzerland’s deal with the EU guaranteeing freedom of movement, told Express.co.uk: “Personally I think Boris Johnson fought a great election campaign focusing on Get Brexit Done, which was the winning argument.
“I think the strategy was to tell the European Union: “We want an agreement of course but if we don’t get one we are strong enough without one.
“‘We are Great Britain, we won two world wars, a powerful economy which invented modern capitalism and the industrial revolution
“‘We are capable of standing on our own two feet and doing it without an agreement.'”
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I think Boris Johnson has the capacity to say if he doesn’t get an agreement he will walk away from the table
“I think Boris Johnson has the capacity to say if he doesn’t get an agreement he will walk away from the table.
“This gives Great Britain a great deal of negotiating power.”
However, Mr Koeppel warned problems lay ahead, largely stemming from the UK’s decision to quit the bloc in the first place.
He explained: “Of course the EU wants to make an example.
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“They want to show Great Britain everybody who leaves the EU is worse off when they leave.
“They have a huge interest in creating a lot of problems because there are many people who are not content with the European Union.
“And of the British model is a success then of course this could have disastrous effects for the European Union.”
Switzerland rejected the chance to join the EU 28 years ago, Mr Koeppel pointed out.
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He said: “With Switzerland, it has always been a provocation for the EU that the most democratic and free country in central Europe is not a member.
“They sense this as an insult.
“Therefore if Brexit is a success this will be a huge blow for the EU.
“I am not against Europe but I am sceptical of the EU as an institution.”
There were striking parallels between the EU’s relationship with his own country and with the UK, Mr Koeppel suggested.
He added: “I think in Switzerland we have a lot of sympathy for Britain going your own way.
“And of course a lot of people say when they see Britain going through this difficult divorce, how lucky Switzerland was that we never got married in the first place.”
“Our perception is it is very familiar, what we see in Brexit.
“We see a referendum of the people, we see a political elite who are resisting with all kinds of arguments, Project Fear, we have had that in Switzerland in 1992.
“Then they said if you don’t say yes to being in the European Economic Zone, Switzerland will fall in a black hole.
“Literally they said we will crawl on our knees to Brussels to get membership if we don’t say yes now.
“This was Project Fear times ten. So all this is very familiar.”
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