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‘UK government facing new court case to derail Brexit’

Report in The Sunday Times says UK government will face fresh legal action in an effort by Brexit opponents to keep Britain in the single market

Staff Reporter
11 December 2016, 2:37pm
The fresh legal action against Britain’s plans to leave the European Union could further hamper Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans
The fresh legal action against Britain’s plans to leave the European Union could further hamper Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans
Opponents to Britain leaving the European Union will launch a fresh legal action tomorrow in an effort to keep Britain in the single market, an attempt which could further hamper Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans, The Sunday Times reported.

The newspaper said the campaigners – one a “remain” voter and the other who voted for Britain to leave the European Union – will write to the government on Monday morning saying they are taking it to the High Court.

It said the claimants will seek a judicial review in an attempt to give MPs a new power of veto over the terms on which Britain leaves the EU. They argue that the government “has no mandate” to withdraw from the single market because it was not on the referendum ballot paper on June 23 and was not part of the ruling Conservative Party’s manifesto for the 2015 general election.

The move provoked fury from Eurosceptics, who accused the claimants of mounting a “vexatious” case designed to overturn the result of the referendum. On the other hand, if the UK were to remain a member of the EU single market, it would scupper Theresa May’s plans to ditch freedom of movement and take control of immigration.

If the legal action is successful, parliament would be able to stop Prime Minister Theresa May from making a clean break with Brussels, delay her pledge to kick start negotiations for Britain to leave the EU, or even derail Brexit completely, the newspaper reported.

The High Court ruled last month that May cannot trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty – the mechanism that triggers Brexit talks – without parliamentary approval, a ruling now being challenged by the government in Britain’s Supreme Court.

The Sunday Times said the new court case hinges on whether the government would also have to trigger another legal measure – Article 127 of the European Economic Area agreement — in order to quit the single market.

It said ministers argue Britain automatically exits the single market when it quits the EU. But, it said if the claimants win the new case, the government would have to gain the approval of lawmakers

A group of British and Irish lawyers are also seeking to challenge Britain's decision to leave the EU in the Irish High Court to try to establish if Brexit can be reversed once divorce talks have been triggered.

Pro-Brexit critics have cast the legal battles as an attempt by a pro-EU establishment to thwart the result of the referendum, when Britons voted by 52-48% to leave the EU.