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What is the Norway-plus Brexit option that MPs are talking about?

UK News | Published:

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has said a Norway-plus relationship with the EU could be an option if Theresa May’s deal is rejected.

Amber Rudd’s suggestion that Norway-plus could be an alternative if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is rejected has added momentum to the campaign.

But what is Norway-plus, would MPs back it and would it truly deliver on the promises made in the Brexit referendum?

– Why is it called Norway-plus?

The idea is based on Norway’s relationship with the European Union as a member of the European Free Trade Association (Efta) and European Economic Area (EEA).

Being in the EEA after Brexit would keep the UK in the single market, meaning goods, services and people could continue to move within the bloc in the same way as before, therefore limiting the potential disruption to the economy.

On top of that, the “plus” bit of Norway-plus would involve a customs union with the EU, which, combined with the single market elements, would avoid a hard border with Ireland.

– Who backs it?

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A cross-party group of MPs including Tory Nick Boles and Labour’s Stephen Kinnock have pushed the idea as a way of delivering Brexit – the UK will leave the European Union – while maintaining the closest possible relationship with Brussels.

Mr Kinnock has claimed that at least 10 Cabinet ministers would back it if Mrs May’s deal is thrown out by MPs on December 11.

– Who opposes it?

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Leave supporters view Norway-plus as “Brexit in name only” because it keeps the UK tied to Brussels’ rules, a customs union would restrict Britain’s ability to strike trade deals around the world and there would be no end to the free movement of EU migrants to the UK.

Remainers who want a second referendum have also hit out at the option because they think a so-called People’s Vote is the best way forward if the Prime Minister’s plan fails.

– Could it happen?

Amber Rudd said it “seems plausible not just in terms of the country but in terms of where the MPs are”.

The current make-up of the House of Commons means that Mrs May’s deal looks set to be rejected and MPs are also expected to block a no-deal exit, leaving Norway-plus and the second referendum as two of the possible options on the way forward.

Brexiteers will continue to push for a looser free-trade arrangement but that could still leave issues around avoiding a hard border with Ireland.

It is unclear which, if any, option could secure a majority in the House.

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