Sunday 20 October 2019

Boris Johnson now insists UK will leave EU by October 31 - despite court document revelations

  • Johnson will seek Brexit extension if no deal reached
  • Simon Coveney says only the DUP are supporting controversial proposals
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Laura Lynott, David Hughes and Conor Riordan

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted the UK will leave the European Union by October 31 with “no delay” - despite court documents today showing that his government will ask for a delay if he fails to get a deal with Brussels by October 19.

Documents disclosed in court revealed his government's intention today. However, he Prime Minister repeated his "do or die" promise to get the UK out of the European Union on October 31 this evening.

The Benn Act requires him to seek an extension if a deal has not been agreed with the EU by October 19, according to a submission to Scotland's highest court.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson’s 'two borders' Brexit proposal not supported by people or businesses in North, says Leo Varadkar

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.

Mr Maugham told Sky News earlier today: "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 October 19 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."

However, Boris Johnson's comments this evening now contradict the court documents.

II GM Boris 18 (Read-Only).jpg
Simon Coveney and Boris Johnson at Iveagh House. Picture: Gerry Mooney

This comes as Simon Coveney said only the DUP were supporting Mr Johnson’s Brexit problematic proposals and if there was a legitimate reason provided by the British, he’d support another extension to avoid No Deal.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, made it clear the Irish Government and the EU are currently at an impasse with the British on Brexit, despite the UK’s leave date rapidly approaching.

“There’s only one political party supporting Boris Johnson’s proposal as the basis of a deal,” Minister Coveney said.

“Nobody else is and that’s because there’s real problems with it.

“I hope the British Prime Minister will recognise that…We will be constructive in trying to help that. 

“This isn’t about politics and personalities or political parties, it’s about complex problems, that need to be solved with real solutions that stand up to scrutiny.”

With the British-EU exit deadline looming and the possibility of a deal lessening, Minister Coveney still insisted it was “never too late” and that “a lot can be done in 10 days, if there’s a will to do it.”

An extension would continue to be “preferable to a No Deal,” Minister Coveneny added but there was a “lot of reluctance” to allow for that across the EU, unless there were “serious proposals” for that.

“That’s presumably a General Election or something else significant to convince the EU there would be a significant increase in the likelihood of getting a deal.

“Our position would be if the British Prime Minister requests an extension.and as long as there's good cause for that, I would support it but I can’t speak for other EU leaders,” he added.

“I think everyone wants peace, I think this is a difficult debate for everyone, it’s split nationalism and unionism and what we’re trying to focus on is the issue itself; rather than the politics and personalities…”

He praised Independent MP Lady Sylvia Hermon of North Down, who has accused Johnson of aligning himself too closely to the DUP while “forgetting the majority” in Northern Ireland, who voted to remain in the EU.

“If you listen to Lady Sylvia Hermon yesterday in the House of Commons, she gave a passionate speech in defence of the Good Friday Agreement and peace because she’s someone who remembers when peace wasn’t taken for granted,” he said.

“But leaders of Unionism in the DUP and other parties, understand that too.”

The Irish Government was working to “reinforce that peace and to normalise relationships” north and south through trade, he said. 

But any move to place customs checks of any description “is something virtually everyone in Northern Ireland wants to avoid.

“The question is how do we do that?”

The Tánaiste visited Chadwick’s building suppliers in Sandyford, Co Dublin, today to hear how the company was preparing ahead of Brexit. 

The company has outlets across Ireland. Minister Coveney said all businesses had to prepare for Brexit and each should have one person assigned to deal with preparations.

With additional reporting by the Press Association

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