European Free Trade Association — [Mike Gapes in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 7th February 2018.

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Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Conservative, Wimbledon 9:30 am, 7th February 2018

I apologise if I, with a sweeping hand gesture, put the hon. Gentleman into the Brexit camp, which he does not wish to be in; that was certainly not my intention. I have had lunch with the president of the EFTA court, and I had lunch with the ambassador to the United Kingdom of one of those countries yesterday, but let me quote the Norwegian ambassador to the EU:

“We would maintain an open-minded stance in the event of an application for EFTA membership. Overall, it is in Norway’s interest to maintain as close trade policy cooperation with the U.K. as possible”.

There is a lot of scaremongering about this point, yet it is clear from speaking to any of the ambassadors that the reality is that they would welcome our application.