Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

PM Accepts He Must Request Extension If No Deal on Brexit Is Reached, Court Told

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

PM Accepts He Must Request Extension If No Deal on Brexit Is Reached, Court Told

Article excerpt

Byline: CONOR RIORDAN Reporter

THE Prime Minister has accepted he must send a letter requesting an Article 50 extension if no deal is agreed with Parliament by October 19, Scotland's highest civil court has heard.

Documents submitted to the Court of Session on behalf of Boris Johnson were read out yesterday, in which he makes it clear he will not attempt to frustrate the so-called Benn Act.

The legislation, passed by Westminster last month, requires the Prime Minister to ask the EU for a Brexit extension to January 31 if Parliament does not agree to any withdrawal deal Number 10 may come back with by October 19.

Andrew Webster QC, representing the UK Government, said the documents are a "clear statement" as to what the Prime Minister will do.

Legal action launched at the Outer House of the court seeks to create an order which would force Mr Johnson to send the letter and prohibits him from frustrating the Act's purpose.

This includes banning him from asking EU member states to deny the letter's request or by sending an additional letter which contradicts it.

Mr Webster said there is no need for an order to be made forcing a letter to be sent, because the court has it on record it will be done.

He said: "What we have is a clear statement on behalf of the Prime Minister and Government as to what it will do in respect to the requirements of the 2019 Act.

"They have been put on record so there can be no doubt."

He argued a court order would tie the PM's hands while negotiating, but that Mr Johnson would abide by the Benn Act anyway and not attempt to "frustrate" its intention.

Mr Webster claimed ministers had been "taking a line" which was not inconsistent with the Government's desire to achieve a result - "we can leave and we will leave on October 31".

He warned a court order could "ruin" the Government's negotiation position with the EU, adding: "It would be quite inappropriate for the court to enter the negotiating arena, by saying what can be done. …

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