Analysis: What happens next in the Brexit legal challenge?

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The Court of Session may have delayed making a ruling in a Brexit legal challenge, but that doesn’t make Boris Johnson’s life much easier.

Lord Carloway said there was currently no basis on which they could grant either of the pro-Remain campaigners’ requests, and that ordinarily, they would have been refused.

Remain supporters at a Brexit court hearing at Court of Session in Edinburgh on October 9

Remain supporters at a Brexit court hearing at Court of Session in Edinburgh on October 9

On the face of it, that sounds like good news for the UK Government. If it can secure a deal before October 19, there is no need to circumvent the Benn Act, and the petitioners’ case will be quietly dropped. Job done.

But - as keen observers of the Brexit crisis already know - the chances of Boris Johnson securing a deal in the short term have dramatically decreased this week.

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It now seems likely there will be no deal in place in 10 days’ time. And according to the terms of the Benn Act, that means Mr Johnson will have to write a letter requesting an extension to Article 50.

The problem is, that would mean the Tory leader losing considerable face in front of the ardent Brexiteers who back him to take the UK out of the EU by the end of October.

Can he find another way around the Benn Act? The court’s decision to hold off gives him breathing space to find one, at least. But the legal challenge has not gone away.

If he fails to comply with the terms of the Benn Act, and does not sign the letter to extend Article 50, the case will resume and judges will determine the matter on October 21.

So whatever move Mr Johnson makes next, the possibility of another courtroom challenge will still be hanging over him.

It’s another unknown quantity at a time when the UK Government is already up to its neck in political uncertainties.

For Cherry and the other petitioners, they can feel vindicated that their actions which have resulted, for the first time, in the Prime Minister indicating in formal court documents that he will sign the letter and not seek to frustrate the Benn Act.”