According to leaked court documents, the British Prime Minister, who continues to promise a Brexit on 31 October, would be willing to postpone the divorce with the European Union.
The Scottish courts are definitely playing tricks on Boris Johnson. In September, an opinion from the Edinburgh High Court led to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn the British Prime Minister’s suspension of Parliament. It was again a Scottish court on Friday, October 4, that trapped him on his Brexit strategy, after government statements in his possession leaked, proving that Downing Street was ready to postpone the divorce with the European Union (EU).
At the beginning of September, Boris Johnson had shocked many in the remainers’ camp (in favour of remaining in the EU), saying he was ready to “die in a ditch” to achieve Brexit by 31 October. He now says less vehemently, but continues to repeat every day, without exception, that the EU’s exit will indeed take place on Halloween. The political manoeuvre is clear: he wants to capture as many voters as possible who are tempted by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, in the prospect of an inevitable general election, since Mr. Johnson no longer has a majority in the House of Commons.
However, a law passed urgently and against his will at the beginning of September by the anti “no deal” deputies forces him to demand a postponement of the Brexit by 19 October at the latest, if Westminster has not given his consent to an agreement with Brussels before. Questioned repeatedly by MPs, the Prime Minister has so far refused to explicitly say that he would comply with this “Benn Bill”, while stating that he will “respect the law”.
“Never believe a man who passed through Eton”
In recent weeks, journalists and experts have been running all the scenarios to try to solve this puzzle. Even the most exotic ones: the Prime Minister would resign, would send Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour opposition, to ask for a postponement of Brexit in his place. Or it would invoke emergency legislation in the name of national security. None of this should therefore happen, according to a statement by Mr Johnson in the Scottish court, revealed by a group of anti-Brexit lawyers.
The Prime Minister “will send a letter” requesting a postponement of Brexit in Brussels, it is written in the statement, and he will not attempt to “thwart” the “Benn Bill” by asking, for example, one of the 27 countries of the Union to veto the postponement of the divorce… The activists who initiated this official statement, lawyer Jo Maugham and Scottish Independence Party elected representative Joanna Cherry, brought an action in the Scottish court in the hope that it would formally oblige Mr. Johnson to comply with the Benn Bill. It was Mr. Maugham who disclosed extracts from the Twitter deposition on Friday.
On Friday, the government did not officially react, with sources on Downing Street continuing to use the same rhetoric: “We will not go and ask for the Brexit to be postponed”. The remainers still enjoyed the information. “Never believe a man who passed through Eton[a male elite school, where Mr. Johnson was a student] who tells you that he is ready to die in a ditch. For the elite, this fate is always reserved for subordinates,” said Paul Mason, a journalist and documentary filmmaker.
Some brexiters continued to look good. For MP Steve Baker, a well-known Eurosceptic Conservative, “the government will comply with the law. This does not mean that we will postpone the Brexit. But then, how? By tearing up an agreement in Brussels? Unlikely, unless Boris Johnson agrees to substantially amend the proposal sent to the Europeans on 2 October. They gave him a week, until mid-October, to swallow his hat.
What is the most likely hypothesis now, even if in the land of Brexit, betting is risky? Mr Johnson would demand a shift of Brexit in Brussels, claiming that he does not want it and accusing the remainers, deputies and judges (especially Scottish) of having deprived the British of Brexit. While crossing our fingers to make this rhetoric pay in the polls.