Our warring MPs should realise all Brexit roads lead to Norway | Simon Jenkins

It’s increasingly clear there is only one deal that can be done. It may not be ideal, but it is workable

From the moment Britain voted for Brexit in 2016, there was only one way to go. It was back to the European Free Trade Association (Efta), of which the UK was a member before 1973. Nothing else made sense. As a Eurosceptic, I voted to remain only because I thought it wrong for Britain to leave Europe’s one conclave of nations just when it was growing seriously unstable. The vote to leave had to be honoured. It was doable. But to abandon the customs union and single market was not doable. It was reckless.

I assumed – and was told – that from day one, Theresa May’s negotiating officials were of the same mind. So too were the majority of MPs and the drift of public opinion, whenever polled. All were against hard Brexit and in favour of varying versions of the single market, in other words the “Norway” model. But May scuppered any hope of cohering such a coalition, by appointing hardline ministers to the Brexit brief and then giving in to them with her red lines in the ill-judged Lancaster House speech in 2017. Instead of talking the language of compromise, which she must have known she would later have to do, she narrowed her room for manoeuvre.

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