Brexit – A Reverse Norway Solution

On Brexit, I’m not surprised we are where we are and the vote on 15 January. There are probably 150 MPs who want to “remain” in the HoC and they won’t vote for a Leave deal. This means any deal needs to get over 300 of the remaining 480 votes to get through – which is tough. At the moment, no proposal has enough votes yet, so we have deadlock.

I’ve been pondering a Reverse Norway option. Norway is in the single market but not the Customs Union. Reverse Norway involves leaving the single market, but staying in THE Customs Union, but not permanently. I think this gets most of the way on the Irish backstop. The UK would stay in THE Customs Union (so no difference between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and no border in the Irish Sea). Regulatory issues would need to be dealt with but this could surely be addressed away from the border with a positive approach to negotiations.

The deal would provide for the UK to remain in THE Customs Union for up to X years and then leave once a satisfactory solution for the Irish border was found – the EU seems to be more relaxed about finding technological solutions than it was when negotiating the WA. The period in THE Customs Union could be used to agree A new Customs arrangement (which could be started before X years). Business would have certainty and there would be no likelihood of a cliff edge. Just in Time systems would work largely as at present. Both sides would have to agree to use best endeavours and have a legal framework for resolution if this was not the case.

The downside is that the UK couldn’t enter into trade deals until A Customs arrangement for goods exists (as it would be in THE Customs Union) but it could negotiate agreements on services and pre-negotiate agreements on Goods  The UK would exit at end 2020 from the transitional period as the negotiations would be about regulations and recognition of standards, not customs duties (which would be on a separate timeline).

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