Norway-style EU deal not right for UK, says May

PUBLISHED: 15:23 30 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:24 30 October 2018

How Oslo can you go?

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Theresa May has again rejected a Norway-style deal with the EU after Brexit.

The move comes after some Tories suggested a temporary "Norway for Now" option to soften EU withdrawal.

Norway is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and has full access to the single market in exchange for making financial contributions and accepting free movement of people.

Speaking during a visit to Oslo, May claimed following Norway's example would not bring the outcome people voted for in the EU referendum.

She said: "The existing relationship that Norway has with the EU is one that has elements that don't, wouldn't, deliver on that vote of the British people."

Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg said some EEA members would find a temporary UK membership of the bloc "a little bit difficult".

She said: "We believe we have the best system in the world, but we know we are small and that big countries decide. That might be a little bit more difficult for a larger country”

May said she wanted a "good" agreement with the EU that took in economic activity and security.

Labour MP David Lammy, a supporter of the Best for Britain campaign for a second referendum, said there was "a sense of déjà vu about the prime minister’s trip to Norway".

He said: "She tried the same tactic at last month’s Salzburg summit and it went down like a lead balloon.

"Now the Norwegian prime minister is even pushing back on Britain being accepted into a club of rule-takers. This is yet more embarrassment for our country which has for so long been a leading decision-maker in the EU.

“This farce has very real consequences for communities up and down our country. That’s why the public need the final say on Brexit, with the option to end this shambles and stay in the EU.”

Nikolai Astrup, spokesperson on European Affairs for the Norwegian Conservative Party, has previously said: "If you want to run the EU, stay in the EU. If you want to be run by the EU, feel free to join us in the EEA."

And Vidar Helgesen, a former Norwegian minister for Europe, has said: "I find it difficult to imagine the UK, with your global ambition, dedication and contributions, being comfortable with such an arrangement."

One of the leading Conservative backers of "Norway for Now" is Nick Boles, a former skills minister under David Cameron. He wrote last week that such a move "would replace the prime minister’s never-ending implementation period and see Britain maintaining continuity in its customs arrangements while we finalise the details of our future relationship with Brussels".

He added: "MPs can support Norway for Now while differing about the long-term destination for Britain outside the EU, because only the first stage of our exit will be set out in the legally-binding withdrawal agreement on which they will have to vote."

He added: "Some Tory Remainers like the idea of staying in the EEA and Efta indefinitely. Most Labour Remainers would prefer to move to a bespoke free trade agreement that would provide access to the single market and the customs union and meet the shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer’s six tests.

"But all of us agree that the journey should begin in a new transition alongside Norway, with continuity in our customs arrangements."

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