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UK unlikely to stay in single market, secret Tory memo suggests

Published 28/11/2016

Prime Minister Theresa May said there were 'really complex issues' at play in the process of leaving the EU
Prime Minister Theresa May said there were 'really complex issues' at play in the process of leaving the EU

The UK is unlikely to be able to stay in the single market after Brexit, according to notes carried by a senior Conservative party aide.

The note, photographed in Whitehall in the arms of an official, says Britain would be "loath" to introduce "transitional" contols after it leaves the EU in order to give the City access to the single market.

It suggests the Government wants to "have cake and eat it" but this would be difficult given the attitudes of the French negotiation team.

The document was spotted in the arms of the chief of staff to Mark Field, the vice-chairman of the Conservative party, as he left a meeting at the Department for Exiting the European Union on Monday. 

The document also says the triggering of Article 50, which formally starts Brexit negotiations, was likely to be "difficult". It reveals that the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, "wanted to see what the deal looks like first" but the Government does not want to provide details.

It says Britain wanted to have a "Canada plus" trade deal rather than remaining a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) but negotiating over services, especially the financial sector, is likely to be "difficult".

The memo comes after many complained the Government appeared to have "no plan" for Brexit as they have yet to lay out a definitive negotiating strategy.

Earlier it was revealed ministers are facing a legal challenge over whether leaving the EU means automatic withdrawal from the single market.

Pro-EU think-tank British Influence is writing to Brexit Secretary David Davis to seek clarification on the Government's position regarding the UK's status in the wider European Economic Area (EEA) when it quits the EU.

The think-tank has said a legal challenge is likely as it believes leaving the EU does not mean quitting the EEA which extends the single market's tariff-free trade in goods to countries like Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

A legal challenge could result in Parliament being given the final say on EEA membership.

A spokesman for British Influence said: "It is likely there will be a legal action because, in our view, the Government has taken a stance that leaving the EU means leaving the single market."

This latest legal challenge follows on from a High Court ruling earlier this month which said the Government must get the approval of Parliament before triggering Article 50.

Campaigners argued that it would be undemocratic for the Government to effectively repeal the European Communities Act 1972 without the consent of Parliament and there needed to be proper parliamentary oversight of the Brexit process.

The case is due to be heard in the Supreme Court before Christmas but could then be taken to the European Court of Justice.

Independent News Service

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