Cross-Party MPs 'Preparing Legal Challenge' Against Prime Minister

Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly told Tory members he would 'never' ask Brussels for an extension to the Brexit deadline.
A stock image of a European flag outside the Houses of Parliament.
A stock image of a European flag outside the Houses of Parliament.
Drazen_ via Getty Images

A cross-party group of MPs are reportedly preparing to mount a legal challenge against Prime Minister Boris Johnson if he attempts to force through a no-deal Brexit.

The House of Lords passed a bill yesterday which would require Johnson to go to the EU to ask for an extension in order to prevent the UK leaving without a deal on October 31.

However, according to The Daily Telegraph, the prime minister delivered a message to Tory members yesterday evening which read: “They just passed a law that would force me to beg Brussels for an extension to the Brexit deadline. This is something I will never do.”

The BBC reported on this morning that cross-party MPs, including expelled Conservatives, had sought legal advice and were preparing to go to court “to compel Mr Johnson to seek a delay”.

David Lidington, the de facto deputy prime minister when Theresa May was in Downing Street, said it would set a “dangerous precedent” if Mr Johnson opted to disobey the law.

The PM reportedly said he would only have to comply with yesterday’s bill to block no-deal “in theory”.

However Lidington, a former Europe minister, told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “It is such a fundamental principle that we are governed by the rule of law that I hope no party would question it.

“Defying any particular law sets a really dangerous precedent.”

The former Cabinet minister said Johnson had convinced him that he still intended to strike a deal with the EU.

However, the prime minister told reporters yesterday he would not consider asking Brussels for a further extension despite the demands placed on him by the incoming law, which is expected to gain Royal Assent on Monday.

Asked if he would obey the new law’s demand for him to write to EU leaders requesting more time, Mr Johnson said: “I will not. I don’t want a delay.”

Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith encouraged Mr Johnson to break the law, saying he would be seen as a Brexit “martyr” if judges opted to put him jail for breaching Parliament’s terms.

If Mr Johnson fails to carry out the will of Parliament, he risks being taken to court and, if a judge ordered him to obey Parliament, he could be held in contempt and even jailed if he refused, reported The Telegraph.

Mr Duncan Smith told the newspaper: “This is about Parliament versus the people. Boris Johnson is on the side of the people, who voted to leave the EU.”

The new law blocking no-deal will rule out an early election before the European Council summit on October 17 as Labour and other opposition parties want the threat of leaving the EU on Halloween to have expired before agreeing to a fresh poll.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats, SNP and Plaid Cymru met on Friday and agreed to block the PM’s election request when it is put to the House of Commons again on Monday.

A similar motion was defeated by MPs on Wednesday, failing to make the two-thirds threshold needed to dissolve Parliament.


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