British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday (28 October) he would guide "very strongly against" the UK seeking to adopt a Norwegian-style relationship with the European Union (EU) if it votes to leave the bloc at a referendum due by the end of 2017. Asked by a lawmaker in parliament to confirm no options were off the table in his renegotiation of Britain's EU membership, Cameron agreed, but warned against copying Norway, which is not an EU member but has access to the bloc's single market.
"Some people arguing for Britain to leave the European Union...have particularly pointed to the position of Norway saying that is a good outcome. I would guide very strongly against that," he said.
"Norway actually pays as much per head to the EU as we do, they actually take twice as many per head migrants as we do in this country but of course they have no seat at the table, no ability to negotiate."
Norway has rejected EU membership in referendums twice. Along with Iceland and Lichtenstein, it has a European Economic Area agreement that gives it access to the bloc's single market. But in exchange it accepts the EU's principles of freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and people, as well as rules governing, among other things, employment law and competition. It also contributes hundreds of millions of euros (paid in Norwegian krones) to the EU budget.
Cameron had until Wednesday (28 October) avoided addressing the arguments for and against EU membership, an issue that will be put to a referendum by the end of 2017. But with opinion polls showing a narrowing of support for the bloc versus leaving, he has stepped up the pressure.
The British leader is seeking to renegotiate terms of Britain's EU membership and says he wants to stay in a reformed EU. However, he rules nothing out if he cannot get change on matters, such as restricting EU migrants access to welfare payments.
Cameron was later due to travel to a Northern Future Forum in Iceland, attended by the leaders of Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, at which he will discuss his EU reform plans.