Cabinet minister Amber Rudd backs 'Norway Plus' if Theresa May's Brexit deal is defeated
Amber Rudd has become the first Cabinet minister to publicly back the so-called 'Norway-plus' model if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is defeated in the Hosue of Commons on Tuesday.
In an interview with the Times, the recently appointed Work and Pensions Secretary said that the model - which involves staying in the European Economic Area (EEA) - “seems plausible not just in terms of the country but in terms of where the MPs are”.
However, Ms Rudd conceded that “nobody knows if it can be done”.
Dismissing concerns this would allow continued freedom of movement, something many Brexiteers oppose, she said: “Freedom of movement is really yesterday’s question — we are down to a six-year low for net migration from the EU. It was a record high at the referendum”.
Ms Rudd also reiterated her backing for the Prime Minister and the Brexit deal she is proposing, describing herself as “a huge, genuine admirer” of Mrs May.
However, she expressed some frustration with her boss, adding: “I’m always trying to find out what the PM wants to do and she is not always forthcoming about what that is.”
The Works and Pensions Secretary also refused to rule out the possibility that Mrs May will have to resign if she suffers a heavy defeat on Tuesday.
She would only say that we are in “uncharted territory really,” adding that she was “very committed to her handling it and the cabinet is as well”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday morning, Ms Rudd again reiterated her support for Mrs May’s plan saying it was “the best option” and “desirable”.
And while she said a Norway-style agreement was “plausible", she said the Prime Minister's deal was “the one I want to get through", warning: "If we don’t get it though, anything could happen."
Elsewhere in her Times interview, Ms Rudd had strong words for the Brexiteers who quit the Cabinet over Mrs May's deal, saying that male colleagues seem to “seem to flounce out quite a lot”.
Slamming those that want a no-deal Brexit, she said: “The people who want the hard Brexit think it is worth the pain in order to have something better further on and I think a lot of us — perhaps it is more a women’s thing, we think more about the monthly budget, minimising risk — are less seduced by the idea of breaking it all up to remake it more beautifully.”