Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
May I gently say to my right hon. Friend that I would have thought that what everybody is trying to do is to form some kind of consensus? I think we all agree that we have a very, very short period to negotiate all manner of highly complex agreements, including a transitional period agreement. So may I suggest to him that, rather than keep ruling things out, we put everything back on the table and look at what we call “Norway for now”, which we would simply adopt as a transitional period until such time as we come to a final arrangement with the EU?
Well, my right hon. Friend can be as gentle with me as she likes. The simple truth is that, before the Lancaster House speech, we went through a process of considering what the best negotiating strategy would be, in some detail. We looked at who we would have to negotiate with, where the compromises we would have to be made and what the gains would be. We came to the conclusion that the route we are now taking, involving discussions with the member states initially and now with the Union and a transition based on maintaining the important components of what we currently have, is the best way to do it.