Judge re­jects Brexit case amid op­po­si­tion rows over care­taker PM

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By CHRIS MCCALL

The Court of Ses­sion has dis­missed a le­gal chal­lenge aimed at forc­ing Boris John­son to re­quest a Brexit ex­ten­sion if a deal is not reached by 19 Oc­to­ber.

The pe­ti­tion, brought at the Outer House of Scot­land’s high­est civil court, sought to en­sure the Prime Min­is­ter abides by the statu­tory re­spon­si­bil­i­ties laid down by the Benn Act, which was passed by op­po­si­tion MPS last month in or­der to pre­vent the UK from crash­ing out of the EU with no deal.

Mr John­son has re­peat­edly said the UK will leave the EU “come what may” by 31 Oc­to­ber.

But in a writ­ten de­ci­sion, judge Lord Pent­land said both the Prime Min­is­ter and the UK gov­ern­ment had given “un­equiv­o­cal as­sur­ances” that they would com­ply with the Benn Act.

A le­gal chal­lenge aimed at forc­ing Boris John­son to re­quest a Brexit ex­ten­sion if a deal is not reached by Oc­to­ber 19 was yes­ter­day dis­missed by the Court of Ses­sion.

The pe­ti­tion, brought at the Outer House of Scot­land’s high­est civil court, sought to en­sure the Prime Min­is­ter abides by the statu­tory re­spon­si­bil­i­ties laid down by the Benn Act, which was passed by op­po­si­tion MPS last month in or­der to pre­vent the UK from crash­ing out of the EU with no deal.

Mr John­son has re­peat­edly said the UK will leave the EU “come what may” by 31 Oc­to­ber.

But in a writ­ten de­ci­sion, judge Lord Pent­land said both the Prime Min­is­ter and the UK gov­ern­ment had given “un­equiv­o­cal as­sur­ances” that they would com­ply with the Benn Act.

He cited doc­u­ments sub­mit­ted to the Outer House which show Mr John­son ac­cepts he must send a let­ter to the EU re­quest­ing an ex­ten­sion to Ar­ti­cle 50 un­der the terms of the so-called Benn Act.

The Outer House of the court ruled that the case against the Prime Min­is­ter had not been “based on rea­son­able ap­pre­hen­sion of breach of statu­tory duty”.

Lord Pent­land said: “Hav­ing re­gard to the Prime Min­is­ter’s and the gov­ern­ment’s un­equiv­o­cal as­sur­ances be­fore the court in the plead­ings, in the note of ar­gu­ment and in oral sub­mis­sions that they will com­ply with the 2019 Act, I am not per­suaded that it is nec­es­sary for the court to grant the or­ders sought or any vari­ant of them.

“I am not sat­is­fied that the pe­ti­tion­ers have made out their case based on rea­son­able ap­pre­hen­sion of breach of statu­tory duty on the part of the Prime Min­is­ter.”

The pe­ti­tion was brought by SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC, Jo Maugham QC and busi­ness­man Dale Vince, who funded the ac­tion.

An ap­peal against the rul­ing is due to be heard in the In­ner House of the court to­day.

Speak­ing out­side the Court of Ses­sion, Jolyon Maugham QC said: “The court said it has prom­ises from the gov­ern­ment that the gov­ern­ment will send the let­ter man­dated by Par­lia­ment and will act in a way as not to frus­trate Par­lia­ment’s in­ten­tion in en­act­ing the so-called Benn Act.

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

“But there is very real doubt in my mind that the gov­ern­ment will act in ac­cor­dance with the law and so we will pur­sue our ap­peal against the de­ci­sion of the Outer House to the In­ner House.”

Re­main sup­port­ers protest out­side the Court of Ses­sion which re­jected a pe­ti­tion over a Brexit ex­ten­sion

Jo Maugham QC out­side the Court of Ses­sion af­ter los­ing Brexit case. Far left, anti-brexit cam­paign­ers out­side the court; Lib Dem leader Jo Swin­son; Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son en­joys a cuppa dur­ing a visit to Wat­ford Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal

Lord Pent­land ac­cepted the gov­ern­ment’s as­sur­ances

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