Attorney General And Norway Plus Option

During questions to the Attorney General over the legal advice given on the Withdrawal Agreement I asked him about the Norway-plus option and the backstop.


Stephen Kinnock: The Attorney General may be familiar with the terms of the so-called Norway-plus option, in which the United Kingdom would join the European economic area via the EFTA pillar and combine that with a customs union. Can he confirm that that arrangement would supersede the backstop, and in that case, the backstop would in fact fall away? Can he also confirm that it is possible to ​unilaterally come out of the European economic area via article 127 of the EEA agreement, so it enables a unilateral withdrawal?

The Attorney General: If an EFTA-style arrangement —of course, a country cannot belong to EFTA if it is a member of a customs union—with a customs union were introduced, I see no reason why it would not satisfy the stated objectives of the backstop in protecting the hard border and north-south co-operation. The hon. Gentleman asked whether the arrangement is terminable. I think it is terminable on 12 months’ notice, but I may be wrong. However, a customs union would fall to be negotiated specifically with the European Union, and one would have to insist upon such a termination clause in that union. That would be a question of agreeing it with the Union.