Amber Rudd floats ‘Plan B’ before key vote on May’s Brexit deal

LONDON (Reuters) – A close ally of Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday became the first cabinet minister to float a possible Plan B if, as expected, parliament next week rejects her proposal to leave the European Union.

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd leaves 10 Downing Street, London, Britain, December 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

With her own future in the balance, May insists her deal, laboriously negotiated with the EU over many months, is the only one on the table and that the alternatives are a painful ‘no-deal’ exit from the EU or possibly no Brexit at all.

However, members of parliament, including from May’s own Conservative Party, look set to reject her deal, which envisages continued close ties with the EU, in a move that would pitch the world’s fifth-largest economy into even deeper uncertainty.

While agreeing with May that her deal provides the best option for exiting the EU, Amber Rudd, the work and pensions minister, said a Norway-style relationship with the bloc might also offer a way out of the current deadlock.

“If it (May’s plan) doesn’t get through anything could happen: people’s vote, Norway plus, any of these options could come forward,” she told BBC radio on Saturday.

Rudd told The Times newspaper in an interview her own preferred option, if May’s deal failed, was the “Norway Plus” model, adding it “seems plausible not just in terms of the country but in terms of where the MPs are”.

Norway is not an EU member but is in the bloc’s single market, which allows for free movement of goods, capital, services and people. ‘Norway plus’ envisages Britain also staying in the EU’s customs union,

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