Brexit: Johnson facing Scots court case over ‘dual’ Brexit letters

Boris Johnson sent two letters to the EU
Boris Johnson sent two letters to the EU
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Scotland’s highest court will consider whether Boris Johnson broke the law over his “dual” letter approach to seeking a Brexit extension from EU leaders.

Senior Nationalist Joanna Cherry said Mr Johnson may have violated the recent Benn Act which compelled him to seek an extension beyond the UK’s scheduled departure date of October 31 from EU leaders.

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The Prime Minister, who had pledged not to seek an extension under any circumstances, sent an unsigned letter to EU leaders which did ask for an extension. It came after MPs delayed backing his deal to block the prospect of a No Deal Brexit.

But it was accompanied by another signed letter from the Tory leader to European Council president Donald Tusk warning he believed a further extension would be “deeply corrosive.”

Ms Cherry said the fact the letter was dispatched at all was a victory for campaigners who brought the earlier case.

But she pointed out that at the Court of Session earlier this month, the government gave an undertaking not to frustrate the act.

Read more: Brexit - Court of Session urged to prepare letter asking for Article 50 extension
Judges had deferred making a decision on demands from campaigners to sign a letter on the Prime Minister’s behalf if he did not do so. The case will call again on Monday.

Ms Cherry said: “Our legal team are instructed to remind the court that as well as promising to comply with the letter of the Benn Act the PM also promised not to seek to frustrate the purpose of the legislation.

“It will be for the court to decide whether his actions in failing to sign the letter of request and sending a letter setting out his contrary intentions are in breach of the undertakings he gave them or a contempt of court. The only motion we will make is to continue the case to later this week to ensure that the PM complies with his further obligations under the Benn Act, to agree to any extension proposed by the European Council in response to his letter and not to otherwise frustrate the purpose of the Benn Act.”

Ms Cherry was among the campaigners spearheaded the successful Supreme Court challenge against Mr Johnson’s “unlawful” prorogation of Parliament.