Instead of rejoining the EU, could the UK just join the EEA?

Guest article by Christopher McCrudden, Professor of Human Rights and Equality Law, Queen’s University Belfast.

As Brexit negotiations get underway, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see how the UK can pursue its former “have your cake and eat it” strategy, particularly when it comes to a trade deal.

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Still trying to work it out

Even though a coalition (of sorts) has now been agreed between the Tories and the DUP, like many, we’re still trying to work out what the election result means for Brexit.

On the face of it, a “soft” Brexit would be good for Northern Ireland (read no border controls), so perhaps the DUP will push for a softer departure.

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Could the election still stop Brexit?

In the general election campaign, none of the parties specifically mention the option to join the EU again post-Brexit.

However, in their manifestos, the Liberal Democrats​, the Green Party and the Alliance Party all promise the option to have a second referendum to approve the Brexit deal, or reject it and remain in the EU afterall.

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SNP’s official approach to Brexit

The Scottish National Party (SNP) mention Brexit a lot in their manifesto and look to maintain many of the advantages they say Scotland currently receives from the EU. A high priority is continuing access to the Single European Market, for example.

They also make clear they’d like a second referendum on Scottish independence from the UK, at the end of the Brexit process, when the final terms of the deal are known.

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Green Party’s official approach to Brexit

The UK’s Green Party launched it’s 2017 general election manifesto, called the “Green Guarantee”, on Monday.

Like the LibDems, the Greens make it clear that they think the UK would be better off remaining in the EU and they promise a referendum on the detail of whatever deal is negotiated for Britain’s departure from the EU, with the option to reject the deal and remain in the EU.

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Conservatives official approach to Brexit

The Conservatives became the latest party to release their 2017 general election manifesto, yesterday.

In a section titled “Leaving the European Union” they say the UK will no longer be a member of the single market or customs union, and they also imply we may leave the European Convention on Human Rights. This confirms they want what many have called a “Hard Brexit”.

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LibDems official approach to Brexit

The Liberal Democrats released their manifesto for the 9 June 2017 general election, yesterday.

They make no mention of the possibility of the UK rejoining the EU later, if Brexit goes ahead, but they make it very clear they “believe that there is no deal as good for the UK outside the EU as the one it already has as a member”.

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