Boris Johnson will be looking for ‘sympathy’ from EU leaders over extension request

Boris Johnson. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA.

Boris Johnson. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Boris Johnson will be looking for European leaders to 'sympathise' with him and veto the request for a Brexit extension, a cabinet minister has claimed.

Scottish minister Alister Jack said that if the prime minister was facing a choice between breaking his promise to leave by Halloween and breaking the law over asking for an extension, EU leaders could decide "enough is enough" and refuse to extend Article 50.

Explaining that it has been made "very clear" to Johnson that the law states he must write a letter requesting an extension if he fails to get a deal, Jack suggested that he may get sympathy from European countries who may "feel that it's unfair" to prevent the prime minister having a no-deal Brexit.

Asked about Johnson's comments that leaving the EU by October 31 was "do or die", Jack said: "He can make it very clear that he doesn't want to ask for that extension, that he's being forced to ask for that extension and some European leaders may sympathise with him on that and feel that it's unfair that he should have to do something he doesn't want to do.

"If one of our European partners decides - and it could well be the French president - to use his veto and decides enough is enough, in that situation we would be leaving."

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With the court-backed Benn act compelling Johnson to send a letter requesting an extension from the EU instead of leaving without a deal, Jack said: "The government's law officers have made it very clear that the government has to ask for an extension under the Benn Act."

He added: "Our intention is to get a deal done.

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"Failing that, the law says the government will have to ask for an extension but our efforts and energy are going into getting a deal and leaving on October 31."

Asked whether the prime minister should resign if he breaks his promise to leave the EU by October 31, Jack said: "He absolutely should not resign.

"The prime minister fully intends for us to leave by October 31, he will stand by that."

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