The government are facing a legal challenge from pro-EU think-tank ‘British Influence’ over the government’s assumption that Brexit will automatically mean that Britain will leave the European Economic Area (EEA).
If Britain were to remain a part of the EEA, it would mean that Britain would retain access to the single market, whilst still accepting freedom of movement contributing to certain EU budgets.
Currently, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein are members of the EEA, but not the EU.
Jonathan Lis, the deputy director of British Influence, said: “The single market was not on the ballot paper.”
“We’re leaving the EU, that’s fine, but we don’t need to leave the single market and the government should be embracing this intervention not disputing it.”
However, the government believe that Britain leaving the EU is connected to Britain leaving the EEA.
A spokesperson for the government said: “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 (the formal mechanism to leave the bloc) no later than the end of March next year.”
If the legal challenge is successful, Britain will need to invoke Article 127 of the EEA agreement in order to leave the bloc.
Meanwhile, the government are also currently challenging the High Court’s recent ruling that parliamentary approval has to be sought before Article 50 can be triggered. That case will go before the Supreme Court in early December.
Tune into CityBeat at 3:30pm to watch Harry Walker’s report on the case