MPs and peers are wary that Boris Johnson could declare a national emergency to avoid asking Brussels for a Brexit extension.
According to Sam Coates of Sky News, parliamentarians have been discussing whether the Prime Minister is considering this move, and how to counter it. Under law, the PM could unilaterally call a national emergency and reverse the legislation that requires him to ask for a Brexit extension.
However, Coates has spoken to lawyers who doubt whether this move would stand up in court.
Indeed, one QC told Coates that this move would be struck down by a judge pretty quickly because they would determine there is no “emergency”, just a political controversy.
The anxiety of MPs stems from the fact they don’t know what Boris is going to do next. Anonymous sources have been briefing from Number 10 that they will block Parliament’s efforts to force a Brexit extension. However, no-one is quite sure what mechanism Johnson will try to use.
A government source told The Telegraph: “We intend to sabotage any extension. The ‘Surrender Bill’ only kicks in if an extension is offered. Once people realise our plans, there’s a good chance we won’t be offered a delay. Even if we are, we intend to sabotage that too.”
This suggests the government could make threats to the European Union designed to prevent them from offering a Brexit extension. This idea was given legs over the weekend when the French Foreign Minister said his country could veto a Brexit extension, due a “worrying” lack of progress in recent talks.
Whatever strategy he uses, it’s clear Boris Johnson is preparing to fight MPs all the way to the 31st October deadline.