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Nigel Farage has thrown his support behind Switzerland over its increasingly strained relationship with the European Union, saying the bloc was behaving like a “belligerent bully”. The MEP Nigel Farage, 53, has waded in amid the rapidly deteriorating relations

between the two sides after Brussels and Bern fell out over access to the bloc’s stock exchanges. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Farage said: “The Swiss always vote no to the EU and I’m sure they will again. “They can see the advantages of being a small but adaptable and economically successful country far outweighs being bullied by the

European Union and restricted by its regulations. “The closer you get to Brussels the more it’s face as a belligerent bully is exposed. “The Swiss would be crazy to allow themselves to be put under the power of the ECJ and harmful EU regulation. “Switzerland is already a

success as an independent country and I’m sure that won’t change.” Swiss MPs of all political persuasions have been lining up to take a swipe at the EU after a referendum was demanded by the country’s President Doris Leuthard on the nation’s relationship with the

European Union. Ms Leuthard said: “The bilateral path is important. We must therefore clarify our relationship with Europe. We have to know in which direction to go. “Therefore a fundamental referendum would be helpful.” Leader of the Social Democrats Christian

Levrat led the charge, saying: “We are in front of a pile of s***: The relationship with the EU is worse than ever… [Switzerland needs] a serious domestic political debate on the basis of facts.” He added: “We’ve been tangled up in mock debates for far too long.”

Before Christmas Ms Leuthard accused Brussels of “unacceptable” discrimination intended to undermine the country’s role as a financial centre. Switzerland had expected its stock exchanges to be granted full access to EU markets after it paid €1.1bn in funding to help

support the bloc’s poorer member states. But Brussels has tied talks about granting Switzerland financial market “equivalence” to long-running political negotiations about overhauling Bern’s relationship with the EU. The European Commission is putting pressure

on Bern to accept its regulations and the role of the European Court of Justice. It also wants to unify a swath of bilateral agreements that allow Switzerland access to the single market, so that the bilateral deals keep pace with changes to European law. Relations between Switzerland and the EU appear to have slumped to an all-time low after Brussels offered the Swiss stock exchange access to the EU market for only one year despite recently granting the US, Hong Kong and Australia access for an unlimited time. The commission argued that in comparison with these three countries, “the scope of the Swiss decision is much greater, as the trading of Swiss shares in the EU – and vice versa – is more widespread”. A commission official said in Brussels: “This decision should not come as a surprise.” Petra Gössi, who is in charge of the Free Liberals (FDP), also added her weight to the attack on the bloc, saying: “The EU has to abandon the blockade policy if it is interested in good relations.” She added: “But it is becoming increasingly clear that we need a new foundation for the contracts. “For this, we want a self-confident and sustainable solution in which Switzerland and the EU meet as equal partners. The FDP wants legal security and market access.”