Boris Johnson could end up in prison if he ignores new law to stop no-deal Brexit

Boris Johnson making a speech during a visit to West Yorkshire. Photoraph:: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Boris Johnson making a speech during a visit to West Yorkshire. Photoraph:: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Boris Johnson could end up in prison if he ignores the law to force a no-deal Brexit and it ends up in court.

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The House of Lords passed a bill on Friday effectively blocking a no-deal Brexit, paving the way for it to become law.

But, according to the Daily Telegraph, Johnson wrote to Tory members on Friday evening, telling them: "They just passed a law that would force me to beg Brussels for an extension to the Brexit deadline. This is something I will never do."

The BBC reported on Saturday that cross-party MPs, including expelled Conservatives, had sought legal advice and were preparing to go to court "to compel Mr Johnson to seek a delay".

On Friday, Johnson told reporters he would not entertain seeking another deadline extension from Brussels, as the incoming law, expected to receive royal assent on Monday, compels him to if no agreement is in place by October 19.

Asked if he would obey the new law's demand for him to write to EU leaders requesting more time, Johnson said: "I will not. I don't want a delay."

Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith encouraged Johnson to break the law, saying he would be seen as a Brexit "martyr" if judges opted to put him in jail for breaching parliament's terms.

If Johnson fails to carry out the will of parliament, he risks being taken to court and, if a judge ordered him to obey parliament, he could be held in contempt and even jailed if he refused, reported the Telegraph.

Duncan Smith told the newspaper: "This is about parliament versus the people. Boris Johnson is on the side of the people, who voted to leave the EU.

Other ministers are said to take a different approach, however, and think it is time for Johnson to reconcile with the 21 Conservative MPs he sacked this week after they rebelled against him.

The Times reported that senior government figures want Johnson to "come up with a plan B" and distance himself from Tory Brexiteers after he was boxed in by the opposition.

The new law blocking no-deal will rule out an early election before the European Council summit on October 17 as Labour and other opposition parties want the threat of leaving the EU on Halloween to have expired before agreeing to a fresh poll.

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