British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has vowed to bring the UK out of the European Union on Oct 31, despite a law compelling him to ask for an extension. Although many opposition politicians and Conservative rebels have maintained that there’s no way he can bypass the law, his aides led by Mr Dominic Cummings insist that there are loopholes that can and will be exploited to bring the UK out of the EU with or without a deal.
So what are the options available for Boris? According to sources, after failing to call for an election which would have given him a new mandate, the Prime Minister is considering collapsing his own government by resigning as Prime Minister together with his cabinet ministers on October 18, thus triggering a General Election which is likely to take place in December 2019. Since the campaign period would cover October 31, the day on which UK is to leave the EU, the responsibility of writing a letter to the EU requesting for Brexit extension would fall upon the speaker of parliament.
Confident of winning any election, Boris hopes he would then come back again as Prime Minister having avoided requesting for an extension. The only downside of this is that immediately after the resignation of the Prime Minister, the law requires that the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, should try to form a government within 14 days, and that it is only if he fails that an election can be held. But with smaller parties strategizing on how to back Corbyn, there’s a likelihood of him becoming the Prime Minister thus thwarting Boris Johnson’s attempt of returning to no 10 Downing Street altogether.
Another tactic Boris is likely to use to force Brexit, is to have ministers sitting as a privy council to suspend the law which requires him to ask for an extension. According to Sir John Major who once served as British Prime Minister, the Order of Council can be passed by government ministers without involving the Queen or Parliament. He, however, warned Boris against using the tactic saying, “I should warn the Prime Minister that, if this route is taken, it will be in flagrant defiance of Parliament and utterly disrespectful to the Supreme Court, It would be a piece of political chicanery that no-one should ever forgive or forget.”
Some have also claimed that Boris Johnson aims to incite violence then use it as an excuse to declare a state of emergency to avoid requesting for Brexit extension. Such actions would be derived from Civil Contingencies Act of 2004, which gives ministers powers to suspend the rule of law for 30 days in case of a crisis. “This could be in response to an event or situation which threatens serious damage to the environment of the United Kingdom or of a part of region,” The Sun said.
Former British Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, told Daily Mail that raising such fears are part of a well-planned scheme by Brexiteers to cause violence especially after the Prime Minister warned that there would be chaos if Brexit was not delivered. Also raising concerns about the tone of Boris’s speeches was Sir John Major who said, “The Government seems intent on whipping up dissent by using highly emotional and evocative language that can only provoke fear and anger, and fuel grievances against Parliament and the law.”
Last month the Daily Telegraph revealed another plan which involves the Prime Minister sending a letter to the EU requesting a Brexit extension but accompany it with another letter setting out that that the Government does not want any delay after Oct 31. The second letter would aim to cancel the first one. But legal experts have warned that a request for an extension, followed by a request of rejection would be in contempt of court. Former British Director of Public Prosecution, Ken MacDonald, recently warned: “The Act is very clear in what it requires the prime minister to do. If he sends a side letter to Brussels that deliberately conflicts with that requirement, he is definitely within breach of the law.”
Another warning came from the chair of Criminal Bar Association, who told the Guardian, “We cannot expect people not to rob, rape and murder when a government declares it may break the law. We cannot lay rape to the rule of law. As the CBA our role is not to say remain or leave but part of our role is to explain the law – criminal law – and play our part in upholding the rule of law.”
Other plans suggested by Boris Johnson’s Chief strategist Mr Dominic Cummings include hoodwinking MPs into to voting for a deal but not table the necessary legislation for that deal to become law. According to SKY there are also plans to argue that the act forcing the Prime Minister to ask for an extension is unlawful under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. It remains to be seen which plan Boris Johnson will use to skirt around the so-called “Benn Act” to deliver Brexit without breaking the law.