LONDON — A fresh legal challenge to Britain’s plans to leave the European Union was launched in London yesterday, the latest in a series of claims against the government’s approach to Brexit.
The claim argues that separate parliamentary approval is needed to bring Britain out of the European Economic Area, which allows for tariff-free trade and free movement of people.
All 28 members of the EU are part of the bloc, as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.
The legal challenge has been started with the Administrative Court, which sits within London’s High Court, a spokesman for the judiciary said.
A single judge will consider the claim and decide whether it can proceed to a hearing.
The spokesman was unable to confirm the number of claimants, which was put at four by the Guardian newspaper.
The claim joined a case already brought by pro-EU think-tank British Influence, a spokesperson for Britain’s Brexit department said.
"We have received the claim from British Influence and will respond in due course in accordance with normal litigation procedures," the spokesperson.
British Influence announced its decision last month to challenge the government, arguing there was a "strong chance" Downing Street would be acting unlawfully if it took the UK out of the EEA as well as the EU.
"We need judicial clarification," British Influence said in November.
But Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman then told reporters: "Once we leave the EU, we will automatically cease to be a member of the EEA."
The Brexit department’s spokesperson on Thursday reaffirmed the government’s intention to stick to its plan for leaving the EU.
"The Prime Minister and Secretary of State (Brexit minister David Davis) have set out the timetable for triggering Article 50 by the end of March 2017 and that timetable has not changed," they said, referring to the formal procedure to kick-start negotiations with Brussels.
"We were given a clear instruction by the people of the UK to leave the European Union and the government is determined to respect and deliver on the result of the referendum."
The High Court ruled in November that the government does not have the power to unilaterally begin divorce proceedings, raising the prospect of a parliamentary vote.
The decision was appealed by the government and the Supreme Court’s 11 judges are due to announce their decision on the landmark case in January.
May has said she will also give a speech next month with more details of the government’s plans.
The June 23 referendum on Britain’s EU membership saw 52 percent vote to leave the bloc. — AFP