Boris Johnson could be relying on EU law to ensure Brexit happens on October 31st

Prime minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire.

Prime minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

In an ironic twist, EU law could be used against Remain campaigners, with the Brexiteer government relying on it to allow Brexit to take place on October 31st.

The government has not denied reports that it is considering using the supremacy of European law over UK legislation to take Britain out of the EU without a deal.

Downing Street said Boris Johnson intends to comply with the so-called Benn Act - legislation requiring him to extend the Brexit talks if no exit deal is in place by October 19 - but, in the same instance, take the country out of the bloc by the Halloween deadline.

City AM reported that Johnson could deliver on these two seemingly contradictory promises by pointing to the fact EU law, into which the Article 50 deadline is written, trumps British law in which the Benn Act stands.

The report suggests the UK could come out of the European Union without a deal on October 31 if the government can successfully argue the Article 50 deadline must be respected over the demands of the opposition MPs to extend negotiations until January.

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The newspaper quotes a senior government source saying: "European law usurps British law. That means the Article 50 deadline trumps the Benn Act."

Boris Johnson's spokesman did not deny the reports and said it was "a matter of fact that international law takes precedence" over UK statute.

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"We are talking about international law because the agreement that Article 50 would be extended until October 31 was made at the level of an international agreement by the former prime minister," they said.

Number 10 suggested the superiority of EU law would only apply should the 27 member states reject any further extension of the Brexit deadline.

Responding to questions at a briefing with journalists, the spokesman said: "Are you asking me that if the EU refuse an extension then we leave on October 31? Because then the answer is yes - that's what is stated in international law."

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