, 21 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
One of the things about working around politics now (especially on Brexit) is that I have friends on all sides of debate

@NickBoles has put forward a Norway Plus plan to try to deliver referendum result in a divided commons

A thread on why I respect it but think it's flawed 👇
1/ Although I think it's flawed I recognise Nick & Oliver put it forward in a genuine spirit of compromise and not to obfuscate the referendum

(It's depressing how other MPs less committed to Referendum are happy to trash this soft Brexit plan because they want to stop Brexit)
2/ In #January 2017, when I was first appointed at @OpenEurope, I was fan of leaving via Norway/EEA

I recall discussing it with @CER_Grant but also with many key Leavers

It would have been a sensible staging post & provided a better transition to work out our long term position
3/ But we aren't there now.

The EU are now insisting on a backstop & so to obviate the need for that Norway has become Norway Plus and "for now" has been dropped entirely

We can agree or not on whether Norway Plus is a good long-term place for the UK but first another concern
4/ "Norway Plus" is not an off the shelf model ready to adopt

Even adding a customs union causes significant issues

And resolving those issues requires negotiating - so this isn't a model ready for use on day one after Brexit
5/ I know "Norway" offers many advantages over EU membership

Norway is not simply a non-voting EU member

But "Norway" isn't on offer

Anyway, Brussels & EU members are uncomfortable for various reasons with us getting "Norway" even with customs union & so would seek more pluses
6/ They may try to make us give up independence on fishing, agriculture, and so on. And ask us to pay more and have tighter enforcement

They're concerned our services (esp banking) sector is too big & so would need different rules to Norway

So we could get lots of those pluses
7/ These pluses, if they get added on, in addition to the customs union, would erode the independence and gains offered by the basic Norway model

The Norway model is not non-voting membership of the EU but a Norway plus plus plus could end up being so
8/ Some proponents of this sort of plan such a @LucyMPowell & @halfon4harlowMP are now seeking what they call Common Market 2.0


But as of now that doesn't exist other than on paper in the UK

It would need to be negotiated in future *with the EU & EEA* not our Parliament
9/ Halfon can claim that this would give us control of agriculture, fish, and so on, but we can't know that now

We can't even be sure the EU would let us use the EFTA Court if they insist on tighter enforcement (say ECJ)

All of that would have to be negotiated once we leave
10/ We can't start negotiations on the future (and on any possible Common Market 2.0) unless and until we are a Third Country - out of Article 50

And to get there (on good terms with the EU) we need to pass a withdrawal agreement which is going to look like the current one
11/ So to my mind it's just bizarre that @halfon4harlowMP & @LucyMPowell voted against Withdrawal Agreement

Nothing in current deal rules out getting to Norway Plus, or a Common Market 2.0 or anything like that

What does rule it out is voting the deal down
12/ To be clear, other proponents of this plan such as @NickBoles and @oletwinofficial did back the deal last week

But they are now pushing for the PM to "pivot" to Norway Plus.

Fair enough - as far as I know neither have ever voted for anything other than delivering Brexit
13/ However I think that a central claimed advantage of Norway - ie that it's a known quantity or an off the shelf model doesn't hold up to scrutiny

Then we can come on to other issues with the plan
14/ I don't think a relationship that left Britain that close to the EU is politically sustainable.

Neither do key Europeans I've spoken with for example in Elysée. They worry we would leave that relationship

Wouldn't a future Tory Government be likely to commit to leave it?
15/ This plan is - in @NickBoles version - premised on accepting the entire extant Withdrawal Agreement including the Backstop & then seeking to narrow the Political Declaration on the future to point to Norway Plus

That to me seems both superfluous (it's already possible)...
16/ and bad negotiating - if we narrow our range of options now we will have less flexibility in the post Article 50 negotiations and will be over a proverbial barrel of mackerel as we desperately try to get protocols to the EEA agreement locked down while we give away fish etc
17/ It's also true that staying in Single Market & Customs Union not only junks every bit of May's red lines & Tory manifesto but cuts against what was said during Referendum by both sides - that we would quit Single Market to avoid wideranging rule taking & control free movement
18/ There is a case for a close relationship with EU

There's a case for aligning with certain EU rules as @OpenEurope has argued (to chagrin of many Leavers)

But I don't see point of narrowing Political Declaration to point exclusively to a destination still open to agreement
19/ As I've said I understand what @NickBoles and others are trying to do (though also accept why my friends close to ERG and other parts of the Parliament profoundly disagree)

They are trying to find a majority in commons for Brexit and they aren't wrong to try to do so but...
20/20 To my mind that is best achieved by keeping the Political Declaration relatively loose and deciding exactly where we are heading the other side of Brexit day

See below for my original piece from this morning's @ConHome 👇

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