As the Prime Minister returned to the House of Commons following the EU summit I asked her about the Norway-plus option and the backstop.
Stephen Kinnock: The Prime Minister repeatedly claims that the Norway-plus option would require a backstop, but on 3 December her Attorney General told me from the Dispatch Box that he could see no reason why Norway-plus
“would not satisfy the stated objectives of the backstop”.—[Official Report, 3 December 2018; Vol. 650, c. 572.]
Can she confirm that she agrees with her Attorney General on that point?
The Prime Minister: The issue is partly about whether we have the customs union within the Norway-plus model. However, the point about the backstop is that it is there to deal with the period from the end of a transition period to the new relationship—the new relationship being one that will deal with the guarantee to the people of Northern Ireland that there will be no hard border. In any alternative arrangement, it would be necessary to have that negotiation.
Norway-plus is not something that can just happen. This House might want to say it will happen; actually, Norway-plus requires such a negotiation, because we would have to negotiate to be a member of EFTA first in order to get such an arrangement in place. In doing that, there would therefore be a risk that there would be a period of time when no arrangement was in place, and that would require a backstop.