Fresh Brexit challenge launched at High Court

Fresh Brexit challenge launched at High Court

Fri Dec 30, 2016 3:35PM

A new set of legal challenges regarding Britain’s bid to exit the European Union (EU) has been launched against the UK government, asserting that London is to remain in the single market even after Brexit.

The legal challenges were launched by four anonymous campaigners at London’s High Court on Thursday, with the claimants saying that Britain will remain in the European Economic Area (EEA) and the single market after withdrawal from the 28-member bloc.

The claim argues that Britain’s exit from the EEA needs separate parliamentary approval, allowing for tariff-free trade and free movement of people.

This is while the British government and the European commission insist that the UK leave the EEA the moment Brexit is triggered.

The British Guardian daily said the Thursday claims, in the names of those identified only as W, L, T and B, had been accepted by the High Court.

“We are seeking a declaration that the UK cannot withdraw from the EEA without the approval of HM Treasury and an act of parliament,” said S. Chelvan, one of the barristers involved in the claim.

“These are ordinary working men and women who have decided to make their futures in the UK and wish the UK to be their permanent home. One has mixed nationality; one is a non-EEA national but married to an EEA national. We are trying to highlight the various types of people who will be left in a state of limbo following our withdrawal from the EU,” he added, referring to the four anonymous claimants.

The campaigners claimed that under article 127 of the EEA agreement, contracted parties – including the UK – have to give at least 12 months’ notice before leaving, a move that suggests a separate departure process from that of Article 50.

In a referendum held on June 23, nearly 52 percent of British voters, amounting to more than 17 million citizens, opted to leave the EU, a decision that sent shock waves throughout the world.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will begin the formal withdrawal process by the end of next March. Her critics accuse her of having no precise plan to start the negotiations.

Meanwhile, the UK Supreme Court, which has heard a landmark case to decide whether the government can trigger the process of Britain’s exit from the EU without the parliament’s approval, is expected to deliver its judgment before the end of January.

If the court upholds the High Court’s ruling, that could disrupt May’s planned timetable for invoking Article 50 by March and derail the government’s wider Brexit plans.

Once Article 50 is triggered by an EU member state, there is a two-year time limit to complete negotiations. If negotiations fail to reach an agreement, the member state leaves the bloc with nothing.

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