Can Johnson ignore the law?

Boris Johnson wants to ignore legislation, can he do it?


Could Boris Johnson ignore the law and refuse to ask for a Brexit extension?

The prime minister is in a difficult position. When the bill to block a no-deal Brexit becomes law today, he will be required to ask for an extension if a deal hasn't been agreed by 19 October. The opposition parties won't let him have an election. So what can he do?

One suggestion is that he should simply ignore the law and refuse to sign the letter to Donald Tusk, the EU president, daring his opponents to do their worst. Commentators have conjured up visions of Boris Johnson being escorted out of Downing Street by the Metropolitan Police; of court injunctions being sought; or of parliament reviving the ancient law of impeachment.

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Can Boris Johnson ignore the law?

By Joe Harker

Parliament has been prorogued for weeks, giving the government precious little time to secure a Brexit deal and pass it through the House of Commons.

Not trusting the prime minister when he says he is committed to getting a deal but sure he isn't lying when he says he'll deliver Brexit "do or die" on October 31.

As such they have passed legislation that will force Boris Johnson to seek an extension to Article 50 if he's failed to get a deal.

The Claim:

The Daily Telegraph reports Johnson would rather defy the law and ignore the legislation than seek an extension.

Having nailed his colours so clearly to the "do or die" mast the prime minister will not countenance being forced into an extension by the law, so he will reportedly ignore the law and do what he wants instead.

Several cabinet ministers have suggested the prime minister could "deny the will of parliament" and demand the matter be put to a general election.

They have continued with the government rhetoric of holding a "parliament vs the people" election, claiming that Johnson is on the side of the public against MPs trying to frustrate the result of the referendum.

If the people want Boris Johnson to get Brexit done then they have argued that the prime minister should break the law by public consent.

The Counter Claim:

Failing to carry out the will of parliament, enshrined into law and given Royal Assent, risks court action and the potential for a jail sentence.

Simply put the prime minister is not above the law, he is bound by it just as much as the rest of parliament and the public.

It would be the most dangerous of precedents if the government stopped obeying the law, if those running the country were so transparent in their disdain for the law then why should the public hold any respect for it?

The Independent suggests the sight of Johnson being escorted out of parliament by police is a fanciful one, despite how much his opponents might like to see it.

He cannot ignore the law and they believe when the time comes he won't go quite so far as to commit a crime.

Instead it's more likely the situation will be resolved by Johnson's resignation or a vote of no confidence. If he can't get a deal and won't ask the EU for an extension then the UK either needs a new parliament that will repeal the law or a new prime minister who will follow it.

The Facts:

First off, the bill that would bind him states that by October 19 the prime minister must either have reached a deal with the EU and had it approved by parliament or he must have parliament's approval for a no deal Brexit.

Without it he must seek an extension until January 31, 2020. If the EU accepts the request then he is bound to accept it, if they propose a different extension date then he must accept it within two days unless parliament rejects that date.

So, can he actually do that?

Reuters reports that no he can't, at least according to former senior judge Lord Jonathan Sumption. Johnson can't break the law and he can't send another request to the EU asking them to reject the option of an extension.

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Daily Telegraph

Boris Johnson set to defy the law rather than ask for Brexit delay

Boris Johnson would rather defy the law than ask for another Brexit delay, he has indicated, as Labour was accused of plunging Britain into a constitutional crisis.

The Prime Minister said he "will not" carry out Parliament's instructions to seek an Article 50 extension if he fails to agree a new deal, adding he was only bound "in theory" by a law passed on Friday.

Mr Johnson also ruled out the option of resigning to avoid asking for an extension, saying he would be staying in office to deliver Brexit and defeat Jeremy Corbyn.

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