Cabinet ministers have been accused by a former justice secretary of peddling “low class garbage” for suggesting Boris Johnson could bypass laws to block a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
Labour’s Lord Falconer told HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast it is “total, utter and complete rubbish” for the government to suggest it would test the so-called Benn bill in the courts to see if the prime minister can get around having to request a Brexit delay.
It comes after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government would “test to the limit” the legislation, which legally requires the government to ask the EU for a Brexit delay if it cannot get MPs’ approval for leaving with no deal, or a new agreement, by October 19.
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Downing Street and cabinet ministers have insisted Johnson will obey the law while also stressing that the PM will not request a Brexit delay, sparking speculation that the PM is looking for a loophole.
But Falconer said that if Johnson fails to comply with the law someone will “immediately” take him to court the next day, where judges will ask why the government has not requested a Brexit delay.
“At the moment, I’m completely bereft of any answer they could give,” he said.
“If an act of parliament imposes a duty on the government, then the courts are quite astute to say, ‘If we tell you to do something, you’ve got to do it. You can’t pretend to do it.’”
Lord Falconer went on: “So when Dominic Raab says, ‘We want to test it,’ yeah, you’ve got to have something to test it with.
“So what is it? Because there’s nothing, there’s obviously nothing.
“That is total, utter and complete rubbish.
“The judge will say you can legislate for anything... including sending a letter.
“This absolute crap, how do you journalists put up with this low class, really low class garbage from the government?
“It’s really demeaning for the government.”
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