The Government faces a fresh legal challenge to its Brexit strategy in the High Court today when campaigners from the Single Market Justice campaign argue that MPs must be given a vote on removing the UK from the European Economic Area (“EEA”) and the single market.
Campaigners Peter Wilding and Adrian Yalland are bringing the challenge, and have been joined by a second set of unnamed claimants. Mr Wilding runs the pro-single market organisation British Influence, and is the man widely credit with inventing the term “Brexit” in 2012. Mr Yalland is a political lobbyist and founded the Single Market Justice campaign in an effort to avoid a “hard” Brexit, whereby the UK will leave the single market. The challenge revolves around Article 127 of the European Economic Area Treaty. Article 127 of the EEA Treaty provides that “Each contracting party may withdraw from this agreement provided it gives at least 12 months’ notice in writing to the other contracting parties”. Single Market Justice will argue that as the UK joined the EEA separately from joining the EU, by enacting the European Economic Area Act 1993, MPs must have a vote on whether to trigger Article 127. Such a vote should be in addition to the vote to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which occurred on Wednesday.
A Government spokesperson, responding to the legal challenge in January, stated that “The UK is party to the EEA agreement only in its capacity as an EU member state. Once the UK leaves the EU, the EEA agreement will automatically cease to apply to the UK.”