Brexit hardball: Ruthless Boris has got EU cornered, says leading Swiss politician

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Mr Koeppel lavished praise on the Prime Minister in a candid opinion article for Weltwoche, the Swiss magazine of which he is the Editor-in-Chief, entitled Boris Johnson’s lessons for Switzerland. He wrote: “Johnson tests the resistance of his opponents. His calculation is: Brussels desperately wants a contract.

“Because of Northern Ireland, they won’t risk breaking off.

“We don’t know whether this is true. But Johnson has the others cornered.

“His strength is enormous because he is ready to get out of the negotiations even without an agreement.”

Mr Koeppel, a member of the Swiss People’s Party, acknowledged Mr Johnson’s approach had angered eurocrats enormously.

He said: “Of course, the EU is bluffing against it with all its might.

“They foretell the end of the British and endless poverty, should they oppose Brussels.”

In a reference to Switzerland’s often-strained relationship with the EU, he added: “Does that sound familiar to us?

“Intimidation, threats and brutal chess moves are part of everyday life in negotiations.

“Good governments hold out without giving in.”

Mr Koeppel was also highly critical of Mr Johnson’s predecessor, whom he believed had been far too willing to give ground and capitulate to the demands of the EU, and suggested the Federal Council, which is effectively the government of the country officially known as the Swiss Federation, had been similarly timid in its approach.

He said: “Switzerland should get off its Theresa May trip as quickly as possible and take lessons from the wicked Boris Johnson.

“The Federal Council shoots itself in the foot when it continually asserts how lost Switzerland is supposedly without ‘bilateral treaties’ or an ‘institutional framework agreement’.

“With this self-minimising rhetoric one does not win a wreath of flowers.”

Mr Koeppel also urged his countrymen to take confidence from Mr Johnson’s approach.

He explained: “Switzerland is not an island in the sea. It is an oasis in the Alps – with massive assets.

“Its multi-billion dollar market is in great demand.

“One of the EU’s main arteries runs through the Gotthard.

“Almost 1.5 million Europeans live here.

“The Federal Council must stop letting Brussels dictate the conditions. It should, finally, begin the real negotiations.”

(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)

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