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Boris Johnson 'will seek Brexit extension' if no deal agreed by 19 October

Varadkar said he would agree to an extension if it was put on the table by Johnson.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated Oct 4th 2019, 2:29 PM

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson will ask for a Brexit extension if a withdrawal agreement has not been agreed by 19 October, court documents show. 

According to documents submitted to the Court of Sessions in Scotland, the British government said that Johnson accepted that he was obliged to send a letter to the EU asking for a delay and that if an extension was granted, Britain would also agree to it.

The Conservative Party leader has continually said, should the EU reject his proposals, he is prepared to take the UK out of the bloc without a deal on 31 October – despite the Benn Act committing him to request an extension to Article 50 if a deal is not secured following the European Council meeting in less than two weeks’ time.

European leaders gave his fresh Brexit proposals short shrift yesterday, with senior figures dubbing his “two borders” customs suggestion for Northern Ireland “unconvincing”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Ireland would likely agree to a request by the UK for an extension.

Speaking in Denmark, Varadkar said if Boris Johnson submits a request for an extension, he would agree.

“I’ve always said that Brexit doesn’t end with the UK leaving, it’s just the next phase of negotiations, but if the UK were to request and extension, we would consider it, most EU countries would only consider it for good reason, but an extension would be better than no deal,” he said.

Varadkar was speaking alongside the Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen, who also agreed to a Brexit extension, before he added that he still believes a deal is possible at the EU Council Summit in mid-October.

“Our focus is on securing an agreement and getting a deal at the EU Council Summit,” the Taoiseach added

The legal action – led by businessman Vince Dale, SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC and Jolyon Maugham QC – is asking the court to require Mr Johnson to seek an extension to avoid leaving the EU without a deal. 

Maughan told Sky News:

“What we learned today is that the prime minister has promised the court, in his own name, that he will ask for an extension under the Benn Act if the conditions are satisfied, in other words if parliament has not before 19 October agreed a withdrawal agreement.

He’s also promised the court that he will not frustrate the Benn Act by which is meant that he will not send two letters, one saying can I have an extension, the other saying please don’t give me one, he won’t collude with foreign governments to attempt to persuade those foreign governments to veto an extension.

brexit Maugham speaking to media outside the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

But Maughan said Johnson’s public comments about committing to the October 31 date meant he was playing “a very odd game”.

“It’s a very difficult game to understand because I think he told the House of Commons yesterday that we would leave come what may on October 31, and I do not understand how that statement can be reconciled with the promises that he’s made to the court today.

There is no way to square that circle. And he is going to have to come clean either to Parliament or the court.

Eurosceptic MP Steve Baker insisted that the Prime Minister would still meet the October 31 date.

Baker, leader of the European Research Group of Brexiteer Tories, told the PA news agency: “A source has confirmed that this just means the Government will obey the law but the source confirmed we will leave on 31 October.

“It’s not really a development in the position.”

Asked whether that means leaving without a new Withdrawal Agreement in place, he said: “We’re going to leave with or without a deal come what may.”

But Baker said he did not know what the Government’s plan was to get around the Benn Act if necessary.

Additional reporting from PA

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Adam Daly

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