Norway’s EU affairs minister, Frank Bakke-Jensen, praised Theresa May’s speech
Norway’s EU affairs minister, Frank Bakke-Jensen, praised Theresa May’s speech where she set out her plan for Britain post-Brexit.
The prime minister confirmed that she will take the UK out of the single market, a controversial issue which had been subject of heated debate.
The Norwegian minister called leaving the market “wise”, saying: “Britain alone would have a difficult task to get as good a deal as Norway has today.”
The Scandinavian country enjoys access to the EU’s internal market as it is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA).
Theresa May's 12 point Brexit plan
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Continued cooperation with the EU to tackle terrorism and international crime.
This means Norway enjoys the free flow of goods, service and labour with the EU, but has been forced to adopt a number of EU laws without having a say on them.
And when they negotiated their EEA membership, in 1992, the bloc was much smaller with just 13 members.
Access to the single market has been a thorn in the side of Mrs May
He said: “The EU has grown so much and it is much more complicated today.”
Mrs May dismissed staying in the single market, as this would mean “being bound by EU laws. That would mean in practice not leaving the EU”.
Access to the single market has been a thorn in the side of Mrs May, with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon latching on to the issue.
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Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, and Mrs Sturgeon has repeatedly said she will do all she can to protect the country’s access to the single market.
But Mr Bakke-Jensen slapped down her plan to use the ‘Norway option’, after she floated the idea of Scotland joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and subsequently the European Economic Area (EEA) post-Brexit.
Mrs May has repeatedly said she will fight to get the “right deal”
The EU has grown so much and it is much more complicated
He said: “I can’t see that it would be possible for Scotland to be part of the EU or the EEA as long as they are part of Great Britain.”
Championing a deal “that works for Britain”, Mrs May said she would push for “a new and equal partnership … Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out.”
Set to trigger Article 50 by this March, the end of the formal two year negotiation process will see the UK an independent country by 2019.
Mrs May has repeatedly said she will fight to get the “right deal”, but confirmed she would pursue a new direction for the UK.
Mrs Sturgeon is laying the groundwork for second referendum on Scottish independence
In her hard-hitting speech, she said: “We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries.
“We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave.”
Mrs Sturgeon is laying the groundwork for second referendum on Scottish independence, after the first failed in 2014, as part of her bid to stay in the EU.
Over the next two years Mr Bakke-Jensen said they would keep a close eye on divorce proceedings, and he is set to meet with the EU’s top Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and the Norwegian prime minister in the coming weeks to discuss Brexit.