Another day, another court case
The European Economic Area (EEA) has always had an element of Ruritanian fantasy about it. In a pub quiz many people could come up with Norway as a member and maybe add in Iceland, but many would forget Liechtenstein and quite a few would probably not know that all the EU countries are members. The issue now is whether EEA membership is an automatic add-on for EU members which automatically dies when they leave, or whether their EEA membership is in any way separate from EU membership. Yes it it, says British Influence, which describes itself rather neatly as a Re-think Tank but can’t manage to keep an active website together. To be fair, all sorts of practical difficulties are bound to arise in an organisation whose co-presidents are Danny Alexander (Liberal Democrat), Kenneth Clarke (Conservative) and Peter Mandelson (Labour). But now British Influence intends to legally challenge the assumption that Brexit means exit from the EEA. They argue that Article 127 of the EEA agreement which requires 12 months notice of intention to quit makes no mention of EU membership and that it therefore should be separately deliberated upon by Parliament. Suppose for a moment that they were to get the backing of the courts. This would mean that MPs would be able to vote specifically on access to the Single Market through the EEA – and as the Remain camp regroups it is increasingly focusing on the view that the people did not vote to leave the Single Market in June. Fascinating. And without wanting to indulge in too many conspiracy theories, such an outcome might just suit the Prime Minister rather well.