Boris Johnson could 'sabotage' Article 50 extension in latest bid to force no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
9th September 2019

Downing Street has drawn up plans to "sabotage" MPs' demands for a Brexit extension if Boris Johnson does not strike a deal with the European Union, it has been reported.

The Prime Minister is reportedly considering plans to convince EU leaders to reject any request for a Brexit extension.
Credit: 
PA

MPs last week passed a cross-party bill which would require the Prime Minister to ask European leaders for a further three-month Brexit delay if no new agreement is reached by 19 October.

But, according to The Telegraph, the Prime Minister is considering accompanying the formal request with further documents making clear that the Government does not want an extension beyond the current 31 October exit date.

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The move - reportedly discussed by key advisers on Sunday - would be be aimed at convincing EU leaders not to grant Britain any further time in the bloc.

A Downing Street source said: "We intend to sabotage any extension. The Surrender Bill only kicks in if an extension is offered. Once people realise our plans, there is a good chance we won’t be offered a delay. Even if we are, we intend to sabotage that too."

A Cabinet source meanwhile told The Telegraph: "There is a prescribed letter that has to be sent... Does that stop the Prime Minister sending other documents to the EU? I don’t think it does."

They added: "There is a clear path now: the Europeans need to refuse an extension."

The report comes as the backbench bill aimed at blocking a no-deal Brexit is expected to receive Royal Assent on Monday, marking its formal passage into law.

According to The Times, Mr Johnson has told the Cabinet that the Government will "abide by the law" if it is upheld in court.

But on Sunday Cabinet ministers Sajid Javid and Dominic Raab rejected the suggestion that Mr Johnson would ask for a further delay to Brexit despite the bill's demands.

Mr Raab, the Foreign Secretary, made clear that the Government intended to apply a legal "test" to the legislation before deciding how to respond.

“We will adhere to the law," he told the BBC. "But because this is such a bad piece of legislation, we will also want to test to the limit what it does actually lawfully require."

FRESH ELECTION PUSH

Meanwhile MPs are on Monday expected to reject a further bid by Mr Johnson to secure a general election on 15 October, just days after voting down a previous attempt by the Prime Minister to take the country to the polls next month.

Under the Fixed Term Paliaments Act, the Government needs a two-thirds majority from MPs - 434 votes - to secure an election.

But the Prime Minister's last attempt only won the backing of 298 MPs, with opposition party leaders making clear that they will not support an election taking place until after the current Brexit deadline of 31 October is passed.

A Downing Street source warned MPs ahead of the vote: "[Monday] is the last chance for Corbyn to be Prime Minister and negotiate his delay at Brussels on Oct 17-18. If he opposes the people having their say in an election on Oct 15, then MPs should realise they may not be able to stop no deal.

"The MPs will be sent home this week and have no further chance to shape negotiations on Oct 17."