By Hannah Woodward
Since the EU Referendum result divided the British nation, Article 50 has been a sensitive issue for many ‘pro-remainers’ due to its signification of beginning Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Recently, a number of MP’s successfully challenged their right to vote on Article 50, however, PM Theresa May is adamant that plans for Brexit were “on track”.However, May now faces the possibility of another legal challenge centered on Article 127 and the UK’s involvement with the European Economic Area Agreement (EEA).
Triggering Article 50 allows the UK the right to exit the EU as well as outlining the procedure for doing so, where as AThe single market is a trade agreement that enables EU countries to trade across borders as easily as they can within their own country, with no extra tariffs or negotiations.
Senior lawyers have argued that they believe Article 50 does not provide reason for leaving the EEA, hence extending the single market’s tariff-free trade in goods to countries like Norway. So is it legally feasible for Britain to leave the EU but remain in the EEA?
In a statement from the House of Lords, it was said that once Britain departs the EU, an immediate withdrawal from the EEA would need to occur.
Pro EU think-tank ‘British Influence’ stated it would open a judicial review into No 10’s assumption, stating, “It is likely there will be a legal action because, in our view, the Government has taken a stance that leaving the EU means leaving the single market.
“The single market is core to the EU, it seems plausible to take Article 127 to Parliament considering the High Court ruled that the Government couldn’t trigger Article 50 without MPs voting on the matter first.”
On the other side, Brexiters argue that Article 127 legitimizes prolonging the UK’s departure from the EU. Conservative MP Dominic Raab said, “Lawyers should be working to make a success of Brexit. The public have spoken; we should respect the result and get on with it”.
Allowing the UK to remain within the EEA would mean the UK would keep freedom of movement, continue to contribute to the EU budget, but not be politically represented in the European Union Parliament.
The Treasury estimated that EEA membership would be the most economically viable choice, with £20bn a year expected to be lost in tax receipts.
Article 127 will be determined by Britain’s approach to departing from the EU: whether it is a soft or hard Brexit. Remainers support the decision to keep Britain within the EEA due to the economic risk upon the UK. Brexiters oppose the single market and freedom of movement hence their support in launching Article 127.