News | Published October 05 2019

Scottish court to consider whether no-deal is now illegal

A Scottish judge has been asked to consider whether the prime minister could be arrested and sent to jail if he takes the UK out of the EU without a deal.

The court will be asked to rule on the extent to which Boris Johnson is bound by the “Benn Act” - the piece of legislation passed by the opposition and rebel Tory MP’s that requires him to request an extension if a deal has not been reached by October 19.

The legal challenge has been initiated by businessman Dale Vince, QC Jo Maugham and SNP MP Joanna Cherry and is being heard at the Court of Session.

A ruling by Lord Pentland is due on the initial part of the case by Monday, ruling on the remedies or punishments that could be inflicted on the prime minister if he fails to comply with the law.

A panel of judges will then also seek to establish what might happen if the prime minister refuses to act, including whether the court could use its "nobile officium" power to effectively sign a letter to European leaders.

While the government has said it will comply with the rule of law, it has been ambiguous over the extent to which it will comply with the Benn act, saying only that it will look "closely" at the legislation.

During his conference speech in Manchester this Wednesday, the prime minister repeatedly said the UK would leave the EU on October 31, adding that it would be a “failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible” if a deal is not reached.

Mr Johnson has also said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than ask European leaders for another extension.

Earlier this week, Boris Johnson bought forward a Brexit plan that sought to get around the controversial Irish backstop by proposing "two borders for four years". 

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Authored by

Joshua Sandiford
Junior Political Editor
October 05 2019

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