Boris Johnson’s spokesman has confirmed that the UK government had missed the European Union’s deadline for replying to its formal letter of notice about the controversial Internal Market Bill.
It leaves the government facing further legal action for failure to explain why he intends to break international law over Brexit, after ministers admitted an intention to breach it in a “limited and specific way”.
The EU had sent Johnson a formal notice giving a deadline of Tuesday to respond, with court action now likely to be the outcome.
Brussels has said it wants the disputed resolved if there is to be an agreement between the UK and the bloc.
A European Commission spokesperson said: “We sent a letter of formal notice on 1 October to the UK for beaching its obligations under the withdrawal agreement. As you know it had until the end of the month to submit its observations to that letter.
“To date I can confirm that the EU has received no reply from the UK, therefore we are considering next steps, including issuing a reasoned opinion [of the European Court of Justice].”
They added the EU is “fully committed to achieving full, timely, and effective implementation of the withdrawal agreement within the remaining time available”, adding that the “dispute will have to be resolved”.
The prime minister’s spokesman confirmed the remarks.
They said: “I’ve seen comments from the European Commission this morning.
“From our point of view, I would say we are committed to working through the Joint Committee process to find a satisfactory outcome for both sides – that is our overriding priority.”
Pressed on whether the government had missed the reply deadline, he said: “I’m obviously not disputing what the spokesman said.”
Asked whether that answer signalled there had not been a reply sent, the official added: “Indeed.”