Dominic Raab drops fresh hint Boris Johnson could defy MPs' Brexit extension law

Posted On: 
16th September 2019

Dominic Raab has dropped a fresh hint that Boris Johnson could defy a cross-party extension law designed to block the UK crashing out of the EU.

Dominic Raab insisted the Government was committed to leave the EU by 31 October

The Foreign Secretary said the legislation - which he described as “very flawed” - needed to be looked at carefully, even as he insisted the Government still planned to leave the EU by 31 October.

MPs this month rushed a bill through Parliament which requires the Prime Minister to request an extention to Article 50 - the formal process that triggered the Brexit process - if he cannot agree a deal with the EU by mid-October.

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Speaking to the Today programme, Mr Raab said: “I think the precise implication of the legislation needs to be looked at very carefully, we’re doing that, but the Prime Minister is very clear he wants to lead us out of the EU at the end of October and he’s focused on getting a deal.”

Pressed on whether the Government would defy the law, he added: “We’ve been clear, we’ll comply with the law but the Prime Minister has been absolutely clear we need to bring this process to some finality.

“So we’ll go for the deal, that’s why he’s out in Luxembourg, the Prime Minister, talking to the President Jean-Claude Juncker.

“But we’re also going to be very clear with our EU partners that we leave at the end of October.”

The comments came as Mr Johnson is expected to tell European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that he will “reject any delay offered” and take the UK out of the bloc on 31 October if no further deal is reached as they hold their first face-to-face meetings on Monday.

Writing in The Telegraph, Mr Johnson meanwhile dismissed the cross-party act as "completely contrary to the UK’s interest" and said it had given the impression "that the UK is no longer either fully able or determined to leave on Oct 31".

But he warned: "In so far as that impression has been given, it is wrong. We will leave by that date - deal or no deal. Yes, it may now be harder to get a deal, since MPs seem set on tying the Government’s hand behind its back. But we are working flat out to get one."

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Mr Johnson also raised eyebrows as he compared the UK’s plight to the Incredible Hulk ahead of his trip to the continent, stressing that Britain will break out of its EU “manacles” on 31 October.

However, speaking to the Today programme on Monday, former justice secretary David Gauke warned the Prime Minister: “Maybe the Incredible Hulk doesn't have to comply with the law, but the British government does."