New legal action aims to make Boris Johnson comply with the law

A new legal challenge to the UK government has been lodged at the Court of Session, to ensure the Prime Minister abides by the law to extend Article 50 if no deal is struck with the EU.
A new legal challenge to the UK government has been lodged at the Court of Session, to ensure the Prime Minister abides by the law to extend Article 50 if no deal is struck with the EU.
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A green electricity entrepreneur has launched legal action to ensure that Boris Johnson complies with the law to prevent the UK leaving the European Union without a deal.

Dale Vince, founder of green energy company Ecotricity, is seeking a judgement from the Court of Session which would require the Prime Minister adhere to the new law, passed earlier this week, to stop the UK crashing out the EU on October 31.

And he wants Scottish judges to be able to extend Article 50, and keep the UK within the EU, if no deal is struck, and if Mr Johnson refuses to seek an extension himself.

The Commons passed a law on Monday which would block the UK leaving the EU without a deal on October 31, stating that the Prime Minister request an extension of Article 50 to January 31 next year.

The law states that it is the Prime Minister himself who would have to request an extension directly to the president of the European Council and even includes the exact wording of the letter.

However Boris Johnson has continually said he will not ask for an extension to Article 50 and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said at the weekend the government would "adhere to the law" but "test to the limit what it actually lawfully requires".

In papers filed this afternoon in the Court of Session, Mr Vince has asked judges to ensure Mr Johnson abide by the law as was passed just before Parliament was suspended.

His legal action makes it clear that if Mr Johnson refuses to respond to the claim, or loses and then fails to comply with the Court’s order, Mr Vince will invite the Court to immediately sign and send to the EU itself the Article 50 extension letter as prescribed by the law.

Mr Vince has teamed up with SNP MP Joanna Cherry and Jolyon Maugham QC of the Good Law Project, who were the successful petitioners to the Court of Session this week, which saw Mr Johnson's prorogation of Parliament ruled "unlawful". The UK government's appeal against that ruling will be heard at the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Mr Vince said his action "would prevent a ‘no deal’ exit by default on October 31 and make the PM abide by the letter of the law in the Benn Act - which he’s suggested time and time again he’s prepared to ignore."

He added: “For months I’ve watched in horror at what’s going on - it feels like we’re on the verge of law and order breaking down in our country. A no-deal Brexit will cause enormous national harm and would be illegal, so we hope the Court will order that Boris Johnson must abide by the law - which would seem obvious, but these are the times we live in now.

“Over the years, I’ve personally been on the receiving end of injunctions that stopped legitimate protests from taking place, on the premise that the law of trespass might be broken or there would be a breach of the peace - so it must be possible to prevent this far more serious law breaking by the PM in the same way.

"As crazy and ironic as this whole situation sounds - it’s where we are, an ex-hippie traveller has to take an old Etonian PM to court to ensure he abides by the law.”

Jolyon Maugham, Good Law Project, added: “The Inner House of the Court of Session has a special and versatile jurisdiction – its nobile officium – which it can use to, in effect, to per procurationem (or pp) any letter that the Prime Minister refuses to send.

“The rule of law is not a thing to be grifted – not even by the Prime Minister.”