Thursday, 14 November, 2019

Brexit: Benn Act petition dismissed by Court of Session

Prime Minister Boris Johnson Prime Minister Boris Johnson Stephen Barclay Leo Varadkar
Russell Knight | 08 October, 2019, 13:36

An appeal is to be launched against a dismissal of legal action aimed at forcing the Prime Minister to send a letter requesting a Brexit extension.

The petition, brought at the Outer House of Scotland's highest civil court, sought to ensure the prime minister stuck to the statutory responsibilities laid down by the Benn Act, which was passed by opposition MPs last month in order to prevent the United Kingdom from crashing out of the European Union with no deal.

French president Emmanuel Macron told United Kingdom prime minister Boris Johnson that all remaining 27 European Union members will make their decision by the end of the week after they discuss whether a proposed Brexit deal can "respect" the bloc's principles and is likely to be passed through parliament.

The Outer House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh refused the order sought by SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC and others in a judgment on Monday.

An appeal against the ruling could be heard as soon as tomorrow.

It sought to create an order which would force Mr Johnson to send the letter and prohibited him from frustrating the Act's goal.

"For myself, I very much hope the court is right and the Government will, as it has promised to do, abide by the law".

Mr Maugham said: "On Tuesday the Inner House will consider whether or not, if the Prime Minister refuses to do what he has told the court that he will do, the court can sign the letter for the Prime Minister, the letter mandated by the Benn Act".

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With the clock ticking down to Britain's departure on October 31, Johnson has consistently said he will not ask for a Brexit delay and that he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than seek any further extension.

Cullen said the Advocate General had stated "clearly and unequivocally the prime minister's intention to comply with his statutory duties" with "detailed and specific" legal declarations. They also showed No.10 accepted it can not attempt to "frustrate" the legislation.

Andrew Webster QC, representing the UK Government, argued this should be enough for the court to be satisfied the Mr Johnson would comply with the legislation.

Aidan O'Neill QC, representing the campaigners behind the legal action, had claimed Mr Johnson's previous statements went against the submissions to the court through the documents.

The Cabinet Office said the paper sets out what will change if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deal on October 31.

If the UK appears to be heading towards a no-deal Brexit on 31 October and the prime minister found a way to get around the Benn act, all three legal challenges could end up at the UK Supreme Court in a dramatic last-minute legal bid to prevent a no-deal departure just days before the deadline.

"The message from that, of course, is that if Boris Johnson doesn't comply with the law and goes back on those unequivocal assurances, then the court would be willing to step in and seek an extension to Article 50".

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