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

The New European - - Agenda -

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

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