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Legal bid to force Johnson to sign off on Brexit delay

Petitioners want to use power unique to Scots court to sign extension request on PM's behalf.

Court of Session: Johnson to face fresh legal challenge. Getty / Creative Commons

A fresh legal action has been launched against Boris Johnson in Scotland’s highest civil court – this time to force him to ask the EU for a Brexit delay.

Backbenchers at Westminster passed legislation last week aimed at compelling the Prime Minister to write to Brussels seeking an Article 50 extension if no deal has been agreed by October 19.

But Johnson has said he will not ask for a further delay to the UK’s exit date from the EU, stating he would rather be “dead in a ditch”.

Petitioners in this new case want the Court of Session’s inner house to use a legal remedy – unique to Scots law – to sign the letter on the PM’s behalf if he refuses to do so.

The action is being funded by renewables businessman Dale Vince, with the backing of SNP MP Joanna Cherry and lawyer Jolyon Maugham QC who runs the Good Law Project.

It comes after the Court of Session ruled on appeal that the Prime Minister’s five-week suspension of parliament was “unlawful”.

That matter will ultimately be decided in the UK Supreme Court over the next few weeks.

Announcing the new action, Mr Vince said: “It’s on. We’ve teamed up with the Good Law Project to bring an injunction against Boris Johnson.

“Our aim is to prevent him from simply ignoring the Benn Act, which passed into law this Monday and is designed to prevent the UK from crashing out of the EU on October 31, by default or by (devious) design.”

He said the Court of Session “has a superpower… it is able to ‘pp’ a letter to the EU on behalf of Johnson if he refuses to write one himself”.

The businessman added: “As crazy and ironic as this whole situation sounds, it’s where we are, a sign of the times perhaps – an ex-hippie traveller has to take an old Etonian PM to court to ensure he abides by the law.”

Speaking on Thursday, the Prime Minister said he remains “hopeful” he can strike a new Brexit deal with European leaders.

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