Published On: Sat, Sep 7th, 2019

Brexit news: Top judge warns civil servant can sign off delay without PM’s consent | UK | News

Boris Johnson has been told he could “go to prison” if he simply ignores Remainer demands to delay Brexit, the former Director of Public Prosecutions has claimed. Sky News correspondent Rob Powell explained the claim from Lord MacDonald, but also outlined Lord Sumption’s belief that a civil servant could “sign off” on a Brexit extension without the Prime Minister’s permission. Mr Powell revealed: “Now a little earlier this morning I was talking to a former Supreme Court judge, Lord Sumption, and he set out an alternative route or maybe another route that the court may choose to go down.

“He said there was ‘plenty of ways for courts to force prime ministers to comply with the law’.

“So they could first publish an injunction, trying to force Boris Johnson to comply, if they refuse to do that they could go to another government office, another individual within government perhaps a civil servant or someone like that, and they could get them to sign off this extension in place of the Prime Minister.

“So it was his view this idea of the Prime Minister being marched off to Pentonville Prison, as he put it, was a little bit dramatic.

“But he didn’t think it would get to this point, because if the Prime Minister really did look like he was on the verge of going against the law of the land then may civil servants would simply refuse to work with him.

READ MORE: Brexit LIVE: Boris could ‘go to prison’ if he refuses to delay Brexit

“As Lord Sumption put it, ‘it would only be him and the fanatics around him who would basically be standing around him.’

“He also said that the Attorney General won’t sit there and let this happen, so it could in the end just be Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings left alone doing this.”

Earlier in the programme, Mr Powell explained: “The last half an hour or so I’ve been talking to the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord MacDonald, now a cross-bench peer.

“He said it was likely that this court action could lead to some sort of order from a judge, from a court, forcing Boris Johnson to comply with the law.

An opposition bill which would force Mr Johnson to ask the European Union for an extension to Britain’s departure to avoid a no deal Brexit on October 31 was approved by the House of Lords, on Friday.

The Queen is expected to sign it into law on Monday. Mr Johnson said last week he has no intention of seeking an extension and would rather “die in a ditch” than delay Brexit.

The Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying he was only bound “in theory” by the new legislation.

Meanwhile Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party, said opposition parties are “absolutely united” in opposing a general election until the “threat” of a no-deal Brexit is “eliminated”.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, she said: “We’ve not responded to the goads of the Prime Minister to try and call a general election now because we know that there is too much risk attached to that. We cannot risk a no-deal Brexit.”

She added: “I think the Prime Minister is very rattled by this, he’s faced by one of the most powerful things that can be, which is a group of unlikely allies getting together for the common good.”

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