Boris Johnson’s government will ask for a Brexit delay if he fails to get a deal with Brussels despite his ‘do or die’ promise to get the UK out of the European Union on October 31, documents disclosed in court have revealed.
The prime minister accepts the terms of the Benn Act, which requires him to seek an extension if a deal has not been agreed with the EU by October 19, according to a submission to Scotland’s highest civil court.
Downing Street refused to comment after the documents were read out during the case at the Court of Session.
The prime minister has publicly said “we will obey the law, and will come out on October 31” in any event, without specifying how he would achieve the apparently contradictory goals – fuelling speculation that he had identified a loophole to get around the Benn Act.
The legal action – led by businessman Vince Dale, SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC and Jolyon Maugham QC – is asking the court to require Johnson to seek an extension to avoid leaving the EU without a deal.
Mr Maugham told Sky News: “What we learned today is that the prime minister has promised the court, in his own name, that he will ask for an extension under the Benn Act if the conditions are satisfied, in other words if parliament has not before October 19 agreed a withdrawal agreement.
“He’s also promised the court that he will not frustrate the Benn Act by which is meant that he will not send two letters, one saying ‘can I have an extension’, the other saying ‘please don’t give me one’, he won’t collude with foreign governments to attempt to persuade those foreign governments to veto an extension.”
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?