UK 'Norway-plus' Brexit option gets cold shoulder from Norwegian MP
Britain should not assume invitation to EFTA, says ruling party member
A proposal to resolve Britain's Brexit impasse by creating a “Norway-plus” plan that would place it outside the EU but inside a free trade area was rejected bluntly by Norwegian politicians.
Heidi Nordby Lunde, an MP in Norway’s governing Conservative party, and leader of Norway’s European movement said the idea was “not an option”.
“We have been telling you this for one and a half years since the referendum and how this works, so I am surprised that after all these years it is still part of the grown-up debate in the UK,” she told the Guardian newspaper.
Lunde said her views reflected those of the governing party.
“You just expect us to give you an invitation rather than consider whether Norway would want to give you such an invitation. It might be in your interest to use our agreement, but it would not be in our interest.”
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a regional trade organization and free trade area consisting of four European states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
The organization operates in parallel with the EU and all four members participate in the European single market and are part of the Schengen Area, but are not party to the bloc's customs union.
Lunde said the countries in EFTA “have to agree on all the regulations coming from the EU, so if one country vetoes something we all have to veto, which means that if the UK enters the Efta platform and starts to veto regulations that we want, this will affect not just the UK but also us as well”
“Part of the success we have had with this EEA agreement is for the last 25 years is that we do accept the rules and regulations that do come out of the EU, mostly because it is in our interest,” she said.
“If, as I understand, UK politicians do not want to be ruled by regulations coming from other countries, why would they accept a country with 38,000 citizens like Liechtenstein being able to veto regulations that the UK wants. That would be the reality.”
The rejection is a blow to a cross-party group led by the Tory MP Nick Boles, with private cabinet support, that is looking for a plan B if, as expected, MPs reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal next Tuesday.
May would be extremely unlikely to push personally for the Norway option as it allows freedom of movement and her obsession with cutting immigration would make it impossible to endorse it.