BORIS: FEAR NOT... WE’RE QUIT­TING EU OC­TO­BER 31

Daily Express - - FRONT PAGE - By Sam Lis­ter Deputy Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

DE­FI­ANT Boris John­son is in­sist­ing Bri­tain will still leave the EU on Oc­to­ber 31 even if he is forced by law to ask Brus­sels for a de­lay.

Court doc­u­ments con­firmed the Prime Min­is­ter will obey the Re­mainer “Sur­ren­der Act” that de­mands he asks for more time if he has no deal.

But No 10 sources in­sisted that would not stop the UK from leav­ing the EU as planned.

And the Prime Min­is­ter last night dou­bled down on so­cial me­dia, in­sist­ing there would be a “new deal or no deal – but no de­lay”. A Down­ing Street source added: “Fear not, we will be leav­ing on Oc­to­ber 31.” Tory

Brex­i­teers have been

re­as­sured by se­nior Gov­ern­ment fig­ures the Oc­to­ber 31 pledge re­mains in­tact.

Steve Baker MP, chair­man of the pow­er­ful anti-EU Euro­pean Re­search Group of Tories, said: “A source con­firms all this means is that Gov­ern­ment will obey the law.

“It does not mean we will ex­tend. It does not mean we will stay in the EU be­yond Oct 31. “We will leave.”

Mr John­son made a “do or die” promise to get the UK out of the Euro­pean Union on Oc­to­ber 31.

But doc­u­ments sub­mit­ted to Scot­land’s high­est court yes­ter­day said he ac­cepts the Benn Act, dubbed by him the “Sur­ren­der Act”. It re­quires him to seek an ex­ten­sion to Bri­tain’s mem­ber­ship if a deal has not been agreed with the EU by Oc­to­ber 19.

The pa­pers were read out at the Court of Ses­sion in Ed­in­burgh as anti-Brexit cam­paign­ers again used the Scot­tish le­gal sys­tem to try to thwart Bri­tain’s de­par­ture from the EU. It has fu­elled spec­u­la­tion that Mr John­son could send Brus­sels a let­ter ask­ing for an ex­ten­sion but make it clear in pub­lic and pri­vate that he will not ne­go­ti­ate any fur­ther with the EU.

Any ex­ten­sion to the Ar­ti­cle 50 process – the mech­a­nism by which the UK leaves the Euro­pean Union – would have to be agreed by all 27 other EU lead­ers.

A se­nior No 10 source said the Gov­ern­ment “will com­ply” with the leg­is­la­tion “which only im­poses a very spe­cific nar­row duty con­cern­ing Par­lia­ment’s let­ter re­quest­ing a de­lay”.

They said the Benn Act can be in­ter­preted in dif­fer­ent ways.

But they added that it does not stop the Gov­ern­ment “do­ing other things that cause no de­lay”. Peo­ple “will have to wait to see how this is rec­on­ciled”, the source said.

“The Gov­ern­ment is mak­ing its true po­si­tion on de­lay known pri­vately in Europe and this will be­come pub­lic soon.”

The Prime Min­is­ter has pub­licly said “we will obey the law, and will come out on Oc­to­ber 31” with­out spec­i­fy­ing how he would achieve the ap­par­ently con­tra­dic­tory goals.

The con­fir­ma­tion in court doc­u­ments came fol­low­ing le­gal ac­tion led by mil­lion­aire busi­ness­man Vince Dale, SNP MP Joanna Cherry and Jolyon Maugham QC. Mr Maugham said he wanted the court to tell Mr John­son he will be jailed if he tries to take the coun­try out with­out a deal.

He added: “We want to see the courts tell him that ‘un­less you send the let­ter, no later than Oc­to­ber 19, un­less you cease try­ing to frus­trate Par­lia­ment’s in­ten­tion, there will be per­sonal con­se­quences for you,You could go to prison’.”

But An­drew Web­ster QC, rep­re­sent­ing the UK Gov­ern­ment in the le­gal ac­tion, said the doc­u­ments were a “clear state­ment” that the Prime Min­is­ter would obey the law.

He said there was no need for an or­der to be made forc­ing a let­ter to be sent, be­cause the court has it on record it would be done.

Mr Web­ster warned that a court or­der could “ruin” the Gov­ern­ment’s ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion with the EU, adding: “It would be quite in­ap­pro­pri­ate for the court to en­ter the ne­go­ti­at­ing arena, by say­ing what can be done.”

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage cast doubt on the Prime Min­is­ter’s promise to leave the EU as planned.

He de­clared: “Boris said we would leave by Oc­to­ber 31 ‘do or die’. Why does he keep say­ing things that are not true?”

Ir­ish pre­mier Leo Varad­kar said Dublin would be likely to agree to a re­quest for a Brexit ex­ten­sion if Mr John­son is forced to make one.

He said: “An ex­ten­sion would be bet­ter than no deal.”

Pic­tures: PA, REUTERS

Pro­test­ers at the Court of Ses­sions in Ed­in­burgh yes­ter­day and in­set, Steve Baker, who leads the Euro­pean Re­search Group

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