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Article 127: Court hearing on single market legal challenge postponed

Whether case proceeds to full trial, like Article 50 challenge, depends on outcome of hearing

Katie Forster
Monday 16 January 2017 18:21 GMT
Pro-EU demonstrators in London following the 23 June vote
Pro-EU demonstrators in London following the 23 June vote (Getty)

Theresa May is expected to announce plans to abandon the single market in a bid for hard Brexit – but this may be made more difficult by a legal challenge relating to a clause known as Article 127.

Unlike Article 50, which is the subject of its own Supreme Court battle to be resolved this week, Article 127 of the European Economic Area agreement sets out the mechanism for leaving the single market.

Pro-EU campaigners say Britain will have to organise its extraction from the European Economic Area (EEA) – and therefore the single market – separately to its departure from the EU itself.

The case, which was initially proposed last year by pressure group British Influence, has been postponed and will now be heard in early February, reported City AM.

It argues that Parliament should be able to vote on triggering Article 127, despite the government’s wish for single market membership to end when Britain leaves the EU.

Whether or not the case proceeds to a full trial, as the Article 50 challenge has done, depends on the outcome of the hearing, which was due to take place this week.

The EEA agreement was first drawn up in 1994 between the EU member states and three countries not in the EU: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Article 127 of the agreement states that “Each Contracting Party may withdraw from this Agreement provided it gives at least twelve months' notice in writing to the other Contracting Parties”.

Ms May is expected to reveal more details on the Government’s strategy to leave the EU potentially just days before the crucial Supreme Court ruling on whether Parliament must give its consent to leaving the EU.

Downing Street has decided to get ahead of a likely defeat in the Supreme Court, which is expected to confirm that the House of Commons and House of Lords must approve the triggering of the Article 50 exit clause.

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