Sorry Stephen, Norway solves nothing
After Labour MP Stephen Kinnock wrote here last week in support of a Norway-style Brexit, former minister and EU commissioner PETER MANDELSON responds on why it would be a disastrous outcome for Britain
Why be a rule-maker when you can be a rule-taker, seems to be the mantra of the moment, with some MPS warming to the prospect of a ‘Norway-style’ arrangement, either as a temporary step towards a more distant relationship with the EU or even as an end in itself.
It has been suggested that this would somehow become an outcome which would satisfy everybody, regardless of the way in which they voted in 2016 and would provide a sensible solution to the Brexit saga. However, this assumption is unrealistic to say the least and whilst not only failing to end the Brexit debate in this country, would just lengthen it, providing a sub-optimal solution to a complex problem.
There are many reasons why the
Norway option would not work or be a desirable outcome for this country, where what is meant by ‘Norway’ is membership of the European Economic Area.
Last week it was suggested in this newspaper by the Labour MP Stephen Kinnock that the Norway option “is the only way to avoid the cliff ”. While I do not question Stephen’s motives – and have long said that he has a strong future ahead of him in the Labour party – I think the ship has sailed on this issue. There are 11 points on which I would take issue with Stephen’s case and which lead me to conclude that Norway is not a solution to the Brexit conundrum.
In a nutshell, it is doubtful that MPS, at this stage in the game, will look to a proposition which would turn this country from being a rule-maker into a rule-taker, would not solve the issue of the Irish border, would not help farming or fisheries communities, and where there is no guarantee that it would be reformed to accommodate our interests. Far from having resolved the Brexit problem, it would lead to countless further arguments, dragging out the issue for years more. There are indeed viable policy alternatives to the deal which is being presented by the government but the Norway option is not seen by most people as one of them.
Peter Mandelson was Labour MP for Hartlepool from 1992 to 2004, and held a number of Cabinet positions under prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He was the European Commissioner for Trade between 2004 and 2008, when he was raised to the peerage