The Government is facing a fresh legal battle over whether it can take the UK out of the single market following Brexit, according to an Evening Standard report.
A pro-single market think tank, British Influence, has said it is writing to Brexit Secretary David Davis to inform him that it is seeking a judicial review of the Government’s stance that the UK’s membership to the European Economic Area (EEA) will end when it leaves the EU.
Lawyers argue that leaving the EEA is not automatic under Article 50 and would only happen if Britain triggers Article 127 of the EEA Agreement, the BBC reported.
Professor George Yarrow, chairman of the Regulatory Policy Institute and emeritus professor at Hertford College, Oxford, said: “There is no provision in the EEA Agreement for UK membership to lapse if the UK withdraws from the EU.
“The only exit mechanism specified is Article 127, which would need to be triggered.”
If the courts back the legal challenge, Parliament could get the final say over EEA membership, and MPs could vote to ensure that Britain stays in the single market until a long-term trading relationship with the EU is agreed.
At the least it would mean a lengthy legal process that could delay the Government’s Article 50 negotiations with the EU.
Conservative MP and Brexiteer Dominic Raab slammed the challenge, saying: “Rather than coming up with new legal wheezes to try and frustrate the will of the people, these lawyers should be working with us to make a success of Brexit.”
A Government spokesman said: “As the UK is party to the EEA Agreement only in its capacity as an EU Member State, once we leave the European Union we will automatically cease to be a member of the EEA.
“The referendum result will be respected and we intend to invoke Article 50 no later than the end of March next year.”