BORIS: FEAR NOT... WE’RE QUITTING EU OCTOBER 31
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.”
Protesters at the Court of Sessions in Edinburgh yesterday and inset, Steve Baker, who leads the European Research Group