This morning, the Telegraph reported that the government believed they had a way around the Brexit Delay Bill passed last week by Parliament. The main plan appears to involve sending a second letter to the EU following one requesting an extension. The second letter would simply state that the first was no longer applicable – the government no longer wants an extension.
The idea would be that the first letter complies with the legislation – sending it would be evidence that the government was ‘seeking’ an extension, as the law requires. If you interpret the law as not stating how long the government must continue to seek it for, this may make sense. However, the consensus opinion of legal experts seems to be that this is not viable.
Of course, this does not necessarily mean the Prime Minister will not try it. It would have to be challenged in the courts, presumably appealed several times. Ultimately though it would almost certainly fail, and Boris Johnson would be forced to extend Article 50 beyond the end of October.
This brings me no happiness to point out – I am hardly comfortable with the constitutionally questionable tactics employed by the House of Commons and would rather not continue extending Article 50 ad infinitum.
But it has not at all been unpredictable. I have argued since the start of the Conservative leadership contest that a Brexiteer-led government would likely not be able to take us out of the EU without a deal. I have always maintained Parliament would be able and willing to block a no-deal exit.
Parliament will simply instruct the PM whoever it may be to seek another extension. If the EU does not allow one, Parliament will simply instruct the PM to revoke Article 50. Prorogation is the only way to avoid this, but prorogation is effectively impossible now anyway.
— Oliver Stanley (@_OliverStanley) July 10, 2019
I was often told I simply did not believe enough or that my view was wishful thinking. I would contest that those who had convinced themselves that a determined executive could achieve whatever it desired against the wishes of the legislature were kidding themselves from the start.
Photo by Chatham House on Flickr.