Scottish court dismisses case to force Boris Johnson to sign Brexit extension letter

Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to appear on the BBC's Andrew Marr show. Photograph: Stefan Ro

Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to appear on the BBC's Andrew Marr show. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Scotland's Court of Session has ruled against forcing Boris Johnson to sign a Brexit extension letter to delay Article 50 - because it believes the prime minister will request one in compliance with the law.

Judge Lord Pentland announced his decision after considering arguments previously made at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

He cited documents submitted to the Outer House which show Boris Johnson accepts he must send a letter to the EU requesting an extension to Article 50 under the terms of the so-called Benn act.

The Outer House of the court ruled that the case against the prime minister had not been "based on reasonable apprehension of breach of statutory duty".

Lord Pentland said: "Having regard to the prime minister's and the government's unequivocal assurances before the court in the pleadings, in the note of argument and in oral submissions that they will comply with the 2019 Act, I am not persuaded that it is necessary for the court to grant the orders sought or any variant of them.

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"I am not satisfied that the petitioners have made out their case based on reasonable apprehension of breach of statutory duty on the part of the prime minister."

Businessman Dale Vince, SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC and Jolyon Maugham QC launched the legal action over fears Johnson would attempt to thwart the act.

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They will now appeal against that decision at the court's Inner House.

Speaking outside the Court of Session, Jolyon Maugham QC said: "The court said it has promises from the government that the government will send the letter mandated by parliament and will act in a way as not to frustrate parliament's intention in enacting the so-called Benn act.

"For myself, I very much hope the court is right and the government will, as it has promised to do, abide by the law.

"But there is very real doubt in my mind that the government will act in accordance with the law and so tomorrow we will pursue our appeal against the decision of the Outer House to the Inner House of the Court of Session."

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