Brexit: Fresh legal challenge blocked by High Court
A fresh legal challenge to Brexit has been blocked by the High Court. A group of campaigners who want Britain to stay in the EU single market argued that Parliament must approve the UK’s exit from the European Economic Area.
But the judges refused to give the green light for the challenge, saying the judicial review was “premature”. The Supreme Court ruled last month that Parliament must have its say before the government can trigger Article 50 and begin official talks on leaving the EU.
Parliament is in the process of considering legislation which would give Theresa May the authority to notify the EU of the UK’s intention to leave by the end of March.
MPs overwhelmingly backed the bill on second reading on Wednesday.
The latest legal challenge was brought by supporters of a so-called “soft Brexit” – which would see the UK remain a member of the EU’s internal market.
The government claimed the case was unarguable since the existing EEA agreement would automatically cease to exist once the UK left the EU.
Under the terms of the EEA, which first came into legal force in 1994, the EU’s 28 members and three other signatories are bound to accept the free movement of people, services, goods and capital across their borders.
Dismissing the case, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Mr Justice Lewis said the government had not made a decision “as to the mechanism by which the EEA agreement would cease to apply within the UK”.
As a result, they said it was not clear at this stage what issues, if any, would fall within the jurisdiction of the courts.
In a joint statement, Mr Wilding and Mr Yalland suggested the government had “used procedure” to thwart them.
They said they would not rule out bringing further proceedings to give all those who would be directly affected by Brexit some form of legal certainty about their rights.
“It is intolerable that those who depend upon their EEA rights to trade with the EEA, or those who are married to EEA citizens, or are EEA citizens resident in the UK, are being used as a negotiating pawn by a government who can choose to act unilaterally to clarify our legal position, but will not,” they said.
“The government must stop playing poker with our rights and stop taking liberties with our freedoms.”
But a government spokesman welcomed Friday’s decision.
“As the prime minister has said, we will not be a member of the single market and we will be seeking a broad new partnership with the EU including a bold and ambitious free trade agreement,” he said.
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the ruling was “good news”.