That hapless character, disgraced former (and once again minister), Liam Fox has approached the Norwegian minister for trade and industry, suggesting that they should work together to establish a task force to prepare for a trade deal once Britain leaves the EU.
But the trade minister from Norway; she says NO.
Fox, as usual living in a cloud cuckoo land where a British royal yacht sails majestically up a fjord with trumpeters trumpeting, court jesters jesting and flunkies flunking (that will be Fox), assumed that Norway would jump at the chance of working with America’s representative on Earth.
But the foreign minister of Norway; he said NO.
The Norwegian Foreign ministry’s director general for European affairs, Niels Engelschiøn, thought that joining the UK in a special task force would jeopardise Norway’s European Economic Area (EEA) agreement.
What Fox has seemingly always been sadly unaware of, is that other countries have existing agreements which are more important to them than striking out with the United Kingdom, no matter how big its economy and how important it is, that is has a “special relationship” with a country which actually is pretty important, what a big boat it’s got or how attractive the wife of one of its princes is.
Norway is a member of the EEA through its membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). It has rejected joining the EU in a couple of referenda, but effectively has a soft ‘Nexit’ agreement which involves it paying to be a part of the single market. That means that it accepts EU legislation relating to the market, and that there is freedom of movement of goods, finance and people.
It has been mooted that Britain might rejoin EFTA, whose membership presently comprises Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. However, the combined total of the populations of the EFTA states is somewhere in the region of 14 million. The UK would swamp the other countries and, given its reputation for wanting its own way on everything, the likelihood is that any application for membership will be rejected.
I’m sure however, that if Mr Fox carries on he’ll find someone somewhere that wants to trade with the UK.