Why ‘Norway Plus’ won’t work – and could make the Brexit crisis worse - People's Vote

Why ‘Norway Plus’ won’t work – and could make the Brexit crisis worse

The People’s Vote campaign today publishes a comprehensive report setting out why the so-called “Norway Plus” proposal not only fails to address the central challenge of the current Brexit crisis but risks exacerbating it by making more misleading claims and undeliverable promises.

The report, entitled Why Norway Plus Won’t Work, shows why the proposal cannot fulfil the promises made for Brexit, would be a worse deal than the one the UK already has in the European Union, and would prolong the uncertainty over Britain’s future.

A foreword co-written by David Miliband, the former Foreign Secretary, and Jo Johnson, the former Transport Minister, says:

"When trust in politics is in such short supply, Norway Plus would not deliver the mandate of 2016 and it could hardly unite the country. Worse, still, some of the claims made for ‘Norway Plus’ are in danger of repeating the deeply misleading promises made for Brexit two years ago. 

"As this paper shows, contrary to some of the claims made for a Norway Plus deal, it would not be easy to negotiate, would not mean reduced payments to the EU and would not allow the UK government to end freedom of movement for migrants from the EU.

"At this crucial and fragile time for democracy, the solution to the gathering crisis around Brexit is to face squarely the economic and political trade offs facing the country, and let the people come to a conclusion. In that context, to embrace Norway Plus is to avoid the core choice, not make it."

The report, entitled: Why Norway Plus Won’t Work, says:

• Norway Plus is politically unrealistic – the ship has sailed. The Government and official Opposition have repeatedly rejected EEA membership because of, among other things, the rules on free movement and state aid, and the inevitable loss of UK influence.

• It wouldn’t eliminate the need for the backstop. Even if the political declaration could be renegotiated, the withdrawal agreement would remain intact – and with it, the universally unpopular backstop. The divorce settlement would be similarly unaffected.

• It would take years to negotiate and would prolong the Brexit uncertainty. Even if the UK, EU and EFTA agreed to aim for Norway Plus, there is no guarantee the negotiations would be successful, given the changing political context in the EU and UK.

• It would leave the UK with no formal voice, vote or veto. The UK would have no formal oversight of new laws handed down by the ECJ, via the EFTA Court. Because of the size of the British economy and fears of ‘cherry-picking’, the EU would likely compel us to follow EEA rules more strictly than Norway or other members of EFTA.

• It would give us less control, not more, over free movement rules. EEA membership would mean complying in full with EU rules around free movement. Claims about how readily the UK could apply an ‘emergency brake’ are misleading. And by giving up our seat in the EU, the UK would be sacrificing our ability to shape and reform the rules around how free movement operates.

• It would mean sending money to the EU but lose our seat at the table.* This would amount to taxation without representation – and, based on Norway’s current contributions per capita, we could end up paying roughly as much as we do now.

• It would likely lead to us replicating the Common Fisheries Common Agricultural Policies, whilst giving us less say over the rules. The EU would insist we agreed not to subsidise our farmers any more than EU members subsidise theirs. It would also insist on a fisheries agreement that builds on “existing reciprocal access and quota shares” to get a long-term deal. The only difference would be that we would lose our say over the rules.

• The UK would lose our influence over our trade policy, whilst also not gaining an independent trade policy. We would have to reduce our tariffs in line with the EU’s new trade deals but would be unable to participate or vote in negotiations. We would have no guarantee of reciprocal access when the EU strikes new trade deals, and no leverage over that third country to secure the same terms.

• Far from uniting the country or helping us 'move on' from Brexit, Norway Plus would likely do the opposite. The misleading claims being made about it today are already reminiscent of the undeliverable promises that were made for Brexit two years ago. The reality is that Norway Plus would mean the arguments over Brexit would continue for many years to come.

Ends

Notes to Editors:

The full report is here: https://bit.ly/2PuT1Ni