Scottish court delays ruling on whether it can directly request Brexit extension

Scotland’s highest court has delayed a ruling on whether it can request a Brexit extension on b...
Michael Staines
Michael Staines

08.50 9 Oct 2019

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Scottish court delays ruling o...

Scottish court delays ruling on whether it can directly request Brexit extension

Michael Staines
Michael Staines

08.50 9 Oct 2019

Share this article

Scotland’s highest court has delayed a ruling on whether it can request a Brexit extension on behalf of the UK – in a bid to see if Boris Johnson will follow through on his obligation to do so.

Mr Johnson is legally obliged to seek an extension if no deal is agreed by October 19th.

In documents submitted to the court, the UK Government accepted that Mr Johnson must send the letter – and agree to any extension that is offered.


However, concerns remain that he may not abide by the law or seek to undermine it.

Brexit UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli at Downing Street, 08-10-2019. Image: Aaron Chown/Pool via AP

Since becoming prime minister, Mr Johnson has continually insisted that the UK will leave the bloc on October 31st - with or without an agreement.

Last week, the Inner House of the Scottish Court of Sessions was asked to rule on whether it could directly intervene if he failed to send the letter.

This morning, the court said it would not deliver a final ruling until October 21st – meaning that it will have time to see whether Mr Johnson sends the letter of his own accord.

Scottish MP Joanna Cherry, one of those behind the legal action said the decision would give Mr Johnson time to fulfil the promise he made to the court.

She welcomed it as a "victory for us and all our supporters."


Meanwhile, the president of the European Parliament has warned Mr Johnson that a no-deal scenario would be a “disaster.”

Following a meeting with Boris Johnson in London, David Sassoli said the only viable alternatives to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement currently on the table are no-deal or an extension.

He warned that no-deal would be “very negative” and would “clearly be the responsibility of the UK government.”

He said Mr Johnson had told him that he will not ask for an extension.

“We hope he has a good proposal that we can discuss until the last moment,” he said.

“We are convinced there can be a deal but there needs to be credible and workable proposals.”

A Downing Street spokesperson said Mr Johnson had told Mr Sassoli that he would prefer to leave with a deal but would take the UK out of the bloc on October 31st without a deal if necessary.

David Sassoli Brexit President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, speaks to the media outside 10 Downing Street, 08-10-2019. Image: Aaron Chown/PA Wire/PA Images

Brexit impasse

It comes after Downing Street said a deal looked “essentially impossible, not just now but ever” following a call between Mr Johnson and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A Number 10 spokesperson said Mrs Merkel had warned him that Britain could easily leave the customs union – but could not simply take Northern Ireland with it.

According to the spokesperson, she noted that the North represented a “special problem” for the UK in the talks.

A spokesperson for Mrs Merkel refused to comment on what was described as a “confidential conversation.”

Brexit Tánaiste Simon Coveney speaking at the budget 2020 Press Conference at Government Buildings, 08-10-2019. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews

"Take it or leave it"

Meanwhile, the Tánaiste Simon Coveney met with Chief EU Negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels yesterday evening.

After the meeting, he noted that if the UK Government continues its “take it or leave it” approach to the proposals it put forward last week, it must “know that there is not going to be deal.”

He warned that there is too much on the line for Brexit to become a blame-game.

“This is far too enormous an issue quite frankly in terms of the future relationship between the UK and the EU and the UK and Ireland to be focusing on the politics of blame rather than actually focusing on the politics of trying to get a deal,” he said.

"Blame game"

The Downing Street spokesman said Mr Johnson’s proposals represent a "reasonable offer" – and accused the EU of not showing any desire to negotiate.

In response the European Council President Donald Tusk warned that "what's at stake is not winning some stupid blame game."

In a tweet directed at Mr Johnson, Mr Tusk said: "At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people.”

“You don't want a deal, you don't want an extension, you don't want to revoke, quo vadis?"

The UK shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer accused Mr Johnson of “engaging in a reckless blame game” and said he was "intent on collapsing the talks.”

Bi-lateral meeting

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar spoke to Mr Johnson by phone yesterday.

A Government spokesman said both sides reiterated their desire to reach a deal and said they hope to meet in person later this week.

British media outlets are reporting Mr Johnson will again visit Dublin on Thursday or Friday.

Main image shows demonstrators outside the Court of Session in Edinburgh as judges consider whether a court can sign a Brexit extension request letter on behalf of the UK government, 09-10-2019. Image:  Jane Barlow/PA Wire/PA Images

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