One of the bitterest divides in British politics right now is between advocates of a second referendum and those who favour the Norway option. They both want to be the last alternative standing to no deal; and are happy to trash each other in the process.
On Politics Live tonight, Tony Blair, the most prominent advocate of a second referendum, laid into the Norway option. He derided it as a ‘pointless Brexit’, as it would leave the UK following the rules of the single market but with less say in how they are made. Nick Boles, the principal Tory advocate of Norway plus, then hit back in his own interview with Andrew Neil. He argued that the EEA emergency brake on free movement would reassure his constituents that you couldn’t have a repeat of the situation that you had in 2011 when Blair failed to impose transition controls on migration from 10 new EU member states.
The fight between the advocates of Norway and the second referendum is significant. If a softer Brexit is to happen, it’ll need the support in parliament of many of those calling for a second referendum. Equally, a second referendum has little chance of success if it can’t convince the likes of Stephen Kinnock and Nick Boles.
This divide is one of the reasons why a deal close to what Theresa May is proposing is not as dead as the monumental defeat that the government suffered om Tuesday suggested. Right now, there is a Commons majority against no deal but no majority in favour of any other option. As long as that remains the case, a deal similar to the one that Mrs May has negotiated will remain a possibility.