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.
This must have been submitted by a lawyer. The intention was never to go to court, because of course a court might find against you. The intention was to put the EU off so that it never offers an extension, and we leave the EU. There’s no point going to court if that happens, although I don’t suppose that would stop Saponaceous Joe and Gina Miller trying, and maybe succeeding, in getting it there eventually.
The real problem with my plan is actually that the EU could simply say, ‘We won’t offer you an extension on your terms, but we’ll offer you an extension without any such conditions’, and then the Remainers could argue that Boris is obliged by the Benn Act to accept that offer. But even then Johnson could find reasons for arguing that he should not accept this because it was not a response to the offer made. I’m not saying that this is necessarily going to stand up in court, but the aim is to muddy the waters, and force the other side to play catch-up.
Anyway, we know that this is not a route that the government is going to pursue. But we have now heard that they are trying (at least) two things: leaning on Hungary to veto the extension, and saying they’ll smash the place up if forced to stay in. Of course Remainers will be horrified by such talk, but I’m tremendously heartened by it. Not because I think such tactics will necessarily work, but because it shows that this administration does have some balls after all, and is going to take the fight back to the enemy.
I’m not at all one of those people who say, ‘Oh, we have to obey the law here, if we break the law then we set a bad example, and we’re no better than the other side, and the other side may do the same to us, and if the Tories don’t stand for law and order then what do they stand for?’
To which I say various things. One is that I’m not a Tory, so I don’t really care whether or not this is a Tory thing to be doing. Two, it clearly isn’t a Tory thing anyway, because the Tories gave up on law and order decades ago.
Three, the other side is already doing all this to us, and have you really not noticed? This is like being shot at by the enemy while being lectured by some pompous idiot who says that you shouldn’t fire back, because the enemy might take that as an excuse to start firing at you. Fourth thing is that I don’t recognise the authority of this Parliament. It is full of people who blatantly lied to get their seats, and I refuse to just sit back and let them do whatever the hell they want for three more years. At the very least I certainly do not recognise that they have the authority to overturn a referendum.
Another way of putting this is that Johnson won his Parliamentary confidence vote, so he has the authority to pursue the course of action he thinks best. If Parliament doesn’t like what he’s doing then it is at complete liberty to have a confidence vote in him.