Court to be urged to order Boris Johnson to abide by Benn Act

Scotland’s highest civil court is to hear arguments over whether the Prime Minister can be forced to extend Article 50.

The legal action – led by businessman Vince Dale, SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC and Jolyon Maugham QC – will ask the Court of Session to require Boris Johnson to seek an extension to avoid leaving the EU without a deal.

It could also later see a court official being given the power to sign the letter if the Prime Minister refuses to do so.

Joanna Cherry QC MP
Joanna Cherry said the legal action aims to ensure Boris Johnson abides by the law (Aaron Chown/PA)

The so-called Benn Act was passed by Parliament last month requiring the Government to ask for an extension until January 31 if an agreement is not reached with the EU by October 19.

Opponents to no-deal are suspicious the Prime Minister will try to thwart the legislation in order to fulfil his vow to leave the EU on October 31 “do or die”.

Ms Cherry said: “Like much of what Boris Johnson says, there is a gulf of truth between the obvious facts of the matter and what he and his Government have been saying.

“He cannot be trusted, and this court action is about ensuring he abides by the law.

“If Boris Johnson tries to defy the law and defy both the Holyrood and Westminster parliaments by crashing out of the EU without a deal – then we are calling on the Scottish courts to uphold the law.”

Ms Cherry previously won a Supreme Court case against the Government which found the planned prorogation of Parliament until October 14 was unlawful.

We're leaving the EU on 31 October, here's how we are preparing.

Find out what you need to do to get ready for 31 October at https://t.co/JQoWuwmGknpic.twitter.com/2I0H5kFbZk

— Cabinet Office (@cabinetofficeuk) September 27, 2019

The Outer House court hearing on Friday will seek an order to ensure Mr Johnson requests an extension to the Article 50 process if he refuses to abide by the terms of the Benn Act.

It will go to the Inner House on Tuesday, where campaigners will ask the Scottish judges to use the unique power of “nobile officium” to empower a court official to sign the extension letter if the Prime Minister refuses to do so.

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