Remainers Lining Up Gove to Lead Norway-Plus Push

While ERG Brexiteers’ efforts are focused on trying to harden up the Brexit deal or even force no deal, other players within the Tory party are coalescing around a push for a ‘Norway-plus’ Brexit after May’s deal is voted down next week. As yesterday’s Evening Standard reports, Tory “sensibles” including Nicky Morgan and Sir Oliver Letwin are now advocating an “ultra-soft” Brexit of staying in the single market and the customs union. In direct contradiction to key manifesto pledges they were all elected on…

Guido understands from multiple sources that the Norway-plus faction are hoping to have one key Cabinet Minister on board – Michael Gove. One senior Cameroon who has been liaising between Letwin and others in the Norway camp believes Gove will come out and lead the Norway push once May’s deal is rejected. Gove’s outrider Nick Boles has long advocated an EEA pivot, while Gove himself has held private discussions with Tory MPs in recent months on the option of remaining in the single market as an alternative to no deal. Gove’s name is absent from yesterday’s Standard article but his continued lines of communications with George Osborne were a significant source of internal tensions in the Brexit camp post-referendum…

Brexiteers still blame Gove for the post-referendum fiasco which led to a Remainer becoming Prime Minister despite Vote Leave‘s triumph. Gove famously committed to the position during the referendum campaign that leaving the EU meant leaving the single market. When Guido put the claim to an ally of Gove he denied it would happen, pointing to Gove’s many on-the-record rejections of single market membership. So Guido challenged him to a wager… which he declined. It would be hard to see the Conservative Party faithful forgiving Gove a second time if he reneged on the single market as well…


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