The United Kingdom may have been out of the European Union, but peers from the EU are forming a means to try to convince Britain to at least stay in the European Economic Area, the EU’s single market, even despite Brexit. The push has been made apparent when the House of Lords themselves have backed the calls on the matter.
The move will be made official by the time the remaining EU members create an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill that led to Brexit in the first place. If finished and implemented, the amendment will be obliging the United Kingdom sto stay in the European Economic Area even after it leaves the 27-member bloc in 2019. This initiative was backed by 245 votes for the matter, and 218 rejecting it.
An interesting thing to note is that neither the Labour leadership nor the government backed the matter. Ministers said the UK staying in the European Economic Area will not give Britain “control of our laws or our borders” and the issue on the matter will be handled by the Commons. Meanwhile, MP’s in support of EU are hoping the Commons will support the amendments.
However, being able to do this means having to “defeat” the two biggest parties in EU, especially if Labour will continue to oppose the amendment. In fact, Labour had urged its peers to at least abstain on the UK vote for EEA membership, as this allows Britain to retain its full access ot the EU’s market of around 300-million consumers. In return, Britain will likely have to make contributions to the EU and accept most of the laws of the bloc.
The move will follow the so-called “Norway model,” named after the system that was applied when Norway – one of the non-EU EEA members – was inducted into the European Economic Area. This means other benefits UK will receive will likely be free movement, which means citizens in the EU can move to EEA member countries to live and work there.
Some believe instead of EEA membership, perhaps a “British bespoke deal” would be helpful. This is what Emily Thornberry, shadow foreign secretary, told the Labour rebels. Lord Alli, the Labour’s Lord, however said the EEA membership of Britain will help various industries such as aerospace, financial services, communications, transport, tourism, and retail.
The Labour party also had a few fractions of its own, as 80 Labour peers voted for the amendment when the party whip voted against it. Some Conservatives that backed the amendment were former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine and former party chairman Lord Patten.
As for Britain itself, Lord Callanan, Brexit minister, said retaining EEA membership would likely not satisfy the desire of the British public for “direct control.” He said this likely means laws the EU implements will still have to be implemented in the UK as well, which ruins the point of Brexit in the first place.
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