An often cited so-called Plan B, Norway Plus, is not the simple off-the-shelf option it is often presented as
Now a deal is on table I'm not convinced it works
A thread 👇
[Note this is evolution from previous option of seeking to replace backstop with EEA]
They would seek to amend Political Declaration to set path to Norway Plus
They would need derogations/protocols to do this
At same time they want to agree a customs union with EU
Negotiating all this during the transition wouldn't be straightforward
[I don't really see point of joining EFTA myself]
Proponents of Norway plus suggest this would be easy. I'm doubtful
Having heard from various people here, in Brussels & member states I'm concerned this would be far from easy.
While we were trying to sort those, EU members would probably say gives us some more 🐟 and while we are at it let's have a Gibraltar row
Add these together and they could quickly take away any advantages of Norway Plus and move it towards non-voting EU membership in all but name
Others don't want us out of the Fisheries Policy & CAP, nor under EFTA Court & Surveillance Authority (rather than ECJ)
While they are at it we will prob end up asked to pay more £££
The EU may also insist on a new UK pillar requiring more negotiation
A senior Elysee view was that it wouldn't work for mid-term. They thought it inevitable that either -
We'd break agreement by refusing to do something from within it
We'd dump deal & fall out
Both would mean no full control over trade policy
But Norway Plus would also mean no full control over laws, money & borders. It would junk PM's red lines
Labour frontbench are not endorsing it - saying instead they want a Strong Single Market deal
[whatever that is]
But that isn't on offer at this stage
[although I wouldn't definitively rule it out for further down line & other side of Article 50]
She could be dragged to Norway only to see Labour say "no", perhaps outflanking @theresa_may on right - saying Norway doesn't end free movement
The SNP could also find spurious reasons to oppose Norway, especially if they smell a path to new Brexit Referendum
And would they not worry that signing the withdrawal agreement could mean they get lumped with backstop anyway?
May embracing a closer relationship would risk exacerbating these splits further
[a previous incarnation of the "Plan B"]
But with no obvious path out of Norway Plus, that seems less likely
Also would MPs be convinced this path would really junk backstop?
Its proponents in Parliament are not blind to its flaws & have been admirably honest about them
[I say critics but many have said they will first vote for Deal then suggest Pivot].
We will know more in days ahead.
I don't rule out a Norway Plus Brexit being where we end up (though I certainly wouldn't favour it) but I don't think it's the panacea that some see it as.
But then what is? 😬