Stephen Kinnock Calls On Government To Commit To Vote On Membership Of EEA

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In questions to the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, I called on him to commit to a vote on British membership of the EEA:

Stephen Kinnock: What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on plans for the House to vote on continued UK membership of the EEA.

The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Mr David Davis): The United Kingdom will no longer participate in the EEA agreement once we leave the European Union. The United Kingdom is a party to the EEA agreement in its capacity as an EU member state, so on exit day the EEA agreement will cease to operate in respect of the UK. It will no longer have any practical relevance to the United Kingdom. We are considering what steps, if any, we might need to take to formally confirm our withdrawal from the EEA agreement as a matter of international law.

Stephen Kinnock: I thank the Secretary of State for his answer, but I am afraid that article 127 of the EEA agreement, to which the United Kingdom has been a signatory since 1993, clearly states that any country wishing to leave the Europe economic area must give formal notice of at least one year. Will the Secretary of State therefore please confirm that such notice would have to be given to leave the EEA and that, given the fundamental constitutional, political, legal and economic importance of such a decision, the decision to leave the EEA would be subject to a debate and a vote?

Mr Davis: There is actually agreement that when the UK ceases to be a member of the EU, the EEA agreement will no longer operate in respect of the United Kingdom. As such, the Government’s legal position is clear: article 127 does not need to be triggered for the agreement to cease to have effect, but we are looking at it just to make sure, for clarity purposes, that we meet its requirements.