Belfast Telegraph

Boris Johnson will ask EU for Brexit extension if deal not reached, court documents say

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Danny Lawson/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Danny Lawson/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will ask the European Union for a Brexit extension if a deal has not been reached by October 19, according to Scottish court documents.

The information came to light at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, where anti-Brexit campaigners have taken legal action to ensure Mr Johnson will seek an extension if a deal is not reached.

Downing Street refused to comment after the documents were read out during the case at the Court of Session.

The PM has said that he would rather "die in a ditch" than ask Brussels for an extension and has insisted the UK will leave the EU on October 31 with or without a deal.

Last month MPs passed a bill requiring Mr Johnson to ask for an extension if a deal cannot be agreed. The PM has repeatedly referred to the legislation as a "surrender act"

One of the campaigners behind the legal action, Jolyon Maugham QC told Sky News that the Mr Johnson had agreed to seek an extension.

"What we learned today is that the prime minister has promised the court, in his own name, that he will ask for an extension under the Benn Act if the conditions are satisfied, in other words if parliament has not before 19 October agreed a withdrawal agreement," he said.

"He's also promised the court that he will not frustrate the Benn Act by which is meant that he will not send two letters, one saying can I have an extension, the other saying please don't give me one, he won't collude with foreign governments to attempt to persuade those foreign governments to veto an extension."

"Those are statements that he's made to the court. The court has said that in those circumstances its contempt jurisdiction might be engaged.

"And so what the hearing is now about is whether we can push the court to clearly engage its contempt jurisdiction.

"Then on Tuesday we now know we will have a full hearing before the Inner House of the Court of Session in which the Inner House will consider whether or not if the prime minister refuses to do what he has today told the court he will do the court can sign the letter for the Prime Minister, the letter mandated by the Benn Act."

Steve Baker MP, chairman of the European Research Group of Brexiteer 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," he wrote on Twitter.

"We will leave."

Speaking in Denmark, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said if the PM submitted a request for an extension he would agree.

"Brexit doesn't end with the UK leaving, it's just the next phase of negotiations but if the UK were to request an extension, we would consider it, but most EU countries would only consider it for good reason, but an extension would be better than no deal," he said.

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