A British think-tank is planning to take legal action against the UK government and challenge the decision to take Britain out of the European Economic Area (EEA) and leave the single market. Lawyers argue that leaving the European Union does not automatically lead to leaving the EEA, but the government is planning to end its membership anyway. British Influence, a pro-single market think-tank, announced that they will seek a judicial review of such a decision. It believes that the government could be acting beyond its powers if it does not seek a clear legal opinion as to whether membership of the EEA will automatically end with membership of the EU.
According to the deputy director of British Influence, Jonathan Lis, the government must seek urgent clarification in the courts. If it fails to do so, the organisation has vowed that it will petition for judicial review. “If the courts back the legal challenge and give parliament the final say over EEA membership, then MPs could vote to ensure that Britain stays in the single market until a long-term trading relationship with the EU has been agreed” said Mr Lis.
A spokeswoman for the government stated that Britain was only a party to the EEA Agreement in its capacity as an EU member state, saying “once we leave the European Union we will automatically cease to be a member of the EEA.” She also made reference to the referendum results and concluded that government’s intention is to invoke Article 50 no later than the end of March 2017.