PM will seek Brexit delay if no deal reached, court told

The PM previously said he would never ask for a delay

Friday, October 4, 2019

Boris Johnson’s government will ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline if he does not reach a deal with Brussels by October 19, according to new documents disclosed in court.

The government papers submitted to the Court of Session in Edinburgh said the Prime Minister accepted the terms of the Benn Act, which requires an extension in the event of no deal.

It comes despite Mr Johnson insisting that he would take Britain out of the European Union “do or die” on October 31 and he "would rather be dead in a ditch" than ask for another Brexit delay.

He has repeatedly refused to rule out a no deal exit but has also maintained the government would “obey the law” – sparking speculation that he had found a loophole in the legislation.

The legal action taking place in Scotland’s highest court therefore asked the judiciary to require Mr Johnson to seek an extension to avoid leaving the EU without a deal.

Downing Street refused to comment after the documents were read out at the hearing.

The case is being led by businessman Vince Dale, SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC and Jolyon Maugham QC.

Mr Maugham said: “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.

He said Mr Johnson has also promised the court he “will not frustrate the Benn Act”, ruling out speculation that he would send two letters to the EU, one asking for an extension followed by a second asking it not to take the request seriously.

Read more

Boris Johnson: Brexit plan goes 'extra mile as time runs short'

PM’s Brexit deal ‘positive but problematic’, says Brussels