The UK Prime Minister Theresa May visited the Norwegian Parliament, Stortinget, in Oslo on Tuesday 30 October in connection with the opening of the 70th Session of the Nordic Council - the Nordic summit.
This is the first time May has visited Norway as prime minister. There were great expectations concerning May’s view of the Nordic collaboration in the light of Brexit and the UK’s negotiations with the EU on a bilateral agreement.
Co-operation will be strengthened
“I can assure you that the close co-operation with the Nordic region will continue after Brexit. We will not be turning our backs on the world and we will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region,” said May when she addressed the Nordic parliamentarians and ministers gathered in the assembly room at Stortinget. She has not yet addressed the EU Parliament.
May talked proudly about the long and close co-operation with the Nordic region and the Nordic countries. She assured the assembly that the co-operation will continue, and that she will be working to strengthen the relationship after the UK leaves the EU.
During the opening of the Session, May took questions from the Council members. One of the members asking a question was Christian Juhl, who represents the Nordisk grønt venstre (Nordic Green Left) party group in the Nordic Council. Juhl asked whether the UK will be following up its climate commitments in the Paris Agreement and whether the country will be following the example shown by the US or the EU.
Our homes are infused with Scandinavian design. Some of us occasionally dance to Abba.
“We have chosen a different road to the US on the environment and climate. We will continue to be a part of the Paris Agreement,” was May’s clear reply, before continuing: “I will be part of a government that makes sure we leave our planet in a better state than when we entered it. We must continue to lead the way on environment and climate,” said May, and underlined her commitment to the Nordic countries and the UK working together on innovation and technology in the environment field.
Erkki Tuomioja, from the Social Democrats party group, asked May whether there will be a new referendum if reaching an agreement with the EU proves impossible.
“I’m asked that question all the time, but the British people have given their vote and they voted to leave the EU,” said May.
May also took the opportunity to praise Nordic design and pointed out that Nordic culture has also made a clear impression in the UK.
“Our homes are infused with Scandinavian design. Some of us also occasionally dance to Abba,” said the British Prime Minister, ironically referring to her own dancing skills, which have received a lot of attention in social media in the past year.
It was the 2018 President of the Nordic Council, Michael Tetzschner, who invited Theresa May to take part in the session.
The Nordic Council's delegation at the Storting is hosting this year's session, in which 87 parliamentarians from the Nordic countries are participating, as well as guests from, for example, the Standing Committee of the Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, the Baltic Assembly, the West Nordic Council, the EFTA Parliamentary Committee, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the Benelux Parliament.