A court has today delayed a decision about extending Brexit, leaving a “Sword of Damocles” hanging over Boris Johnson.
Scotland’s highest court has today delayed a decision about whether it can force Boris Johnson to abide by the Benn Act, that mandates the Prime Minister to delay Brexit if he can’t secure a deal, until after a crucial EU summit late next week.
In a blog, Jolyon Maugham QC said: “Earlier this morning the inner house held the cases over to 21st October – the first working day after the Prime Minister’s obligation to send the Benn Act letter expires. So if the facts do require it, it can make appropriate orders against the Prime Minister.”
The legal challenge came about as petitioners said they did not believe that Johnson could be trusted to follow the act, which states that the government must either reach a deal, gain Parliament’s approval for a no-deal Brexit, or write to the EU to request another extension by 19th October.
Since becoming Prime Minister, Johnson has spouted the same rhetoric, again and again, saying that the UK will leave the EU on 31st October “do or die”.
On Monday, a court said that they trusted Johnson and the government to follow the act and so ruled that there was no need to issue explicit orders forcing him to do so.
But now, with this new court decision, judges have given themselves the opportunity to force Johnson to delay Brexit, if he fails to secure a deal or sign a letter of extension by 21st October.
It is not the first time that Johnson has faced a legal challenge since he became Prime Minister. Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that proroguing Parliament was unlawful, saying that there was “strong evidence” that he was trying to “silence Parliament”.
He may face the same fate once again.