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Does the text of the Benn-Burt bill prevent Johnson making extra requests?

The text of the Benn-Burt bill, otherwise known as the European Union (Withdrawal) (No.6) Bill , can be found here. There’s nothing in it that I can see that prevents Boris Johnson making demands as part of the extension request. The relevant subsection is this:

The Prime Minister must seek to obtain from the European Council an extension of the period under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union ending at 11.00pm on 31 October 2019 by sending to the President of the European Council a letter in the form set out in the Schedule to this Act requesting an extension of that period to 11.00pm on 31 January 2020.

And the text of the letter is this:

“Dear Mr President,


The UK Parliament has passed the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019. Its provisions now require Her Majesty’s Government to seek an extension of the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty, currently due to expire at 11.00pm GMT on 31 October 2019, until 11.00pm GMT on 31 January 2020.


I am writing therefore to inform the European Council that the United Kingdom is seeking a further extension to the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty. The United Kingdom proposes that this period should end at 11.00pm GMT on 31 January 2020. If the parties are able to ratify before this date, the Government proposes that the period should be terminated early.


Yours sincerely,

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”

What here prevents Johnson from also demanding that Portugal becomes a British territory, with all the Portugese people required to leave by Christmas, as part of the extension request?


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7 thoughts on “Does the text of the Benn-Burt bill prevent Johnson making extra requests?

  1. The size of his balls, thats what. There’s a million and one ways Boris can effectively stymie Parliament’s shenanigans, IF he wants to, which is more the important question. Not what can he do, but is he willing to do whats necessary?

    There’s a long history in Britain’s past of people ignoring the rules when necessary (‘I see no ships’) and if he were prepared to just stand up to Parliament on behalf of the People then he’d be even more popular than he is already. The British love nothing better than a bit of piratical freewheeling and sticking two fingers up to their ‘betters’.

    The Right’s problem is they have this obsession with ‘doing things by the book’ while their opponents couldn’t give a toss about the book, despite the fact they probably wrote it anyway, and in their favour. They’ll still ignore it when it suits them to.

  2. Incidentally, I think a better condition for an A50 extension would either be demanding reparations from the Germans for all the blood and treasure the UK expended saving Europe from their predations twice in the 20th century, or perhaps demanding that the French give us back all the bits of France we used to own, or demanding reparations from Italy for their unprovoked invasion of 43AD……..

  3. Portugal’s a poor choice of whipping boy, considering the country’s long and unbroken alliance with England (and subsequently the UK). But consider some more realistic possibilities to affront the EU: perhaps a condition that Spain renounce its claim on Gibraltar, or that the EU take charge of resettling migrants at Calais?

  4. Better.
    The act under which this request was mandated was not proposed by the government. Hence if it is valid it can have no financial implications. Hence there will be no payments to the EU in respect of any extensions.

  5. All the comments as to how Mr Johnson could avoid complying with the intent of the Benn Act appear to have been written by non-lawyers. The Court will in fact look at the overriding intent of the Act and enforce it in accordance with basic principles of English Law and supposed loopholes here will not work.

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