Swiss politician behind EU immigration vote quits parliament

ZURICH Fri May 9, 2014 8:35am EDT

National Councillor of the Swiss People's Party Christoph Blocher speaks in the debate on the mass-immigration initiative during the spring parliament session in Bern March 20, 2014. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

National Councillor of the Swiss People's Party Christoph Blocher speaks in the debate on the mass-immigration initiative during the spring parliament session in Bern March 20, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Ruben Sprich

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ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss politician behind a campaign to limit immigration from the European Union said on Friday he was vacating his seat in parliament to concentrate on opposing closer ties with the 28-nation bloc.

"I can better lead the fight against threats to Switzerland outside of parliament," Christoph Blocher said in an interview released on his online video platform. "The threats are joining the EU, free movement of people, and the implementation of foreign law."

Blocher, a billionaire industrialist, said he would remain in politics as vice president of the Swiss People's Party, which has led a campaign to curtail immigration from the EU.

Swiss voters backed the immigration limits in February, calling Switzerland's bilateral accords with the EU into question and unsettling Swiss businesses, which rely heavily on foreign labor.

(Reporting by Alice Baghdjian; Editing by Larry King)

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