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As far as I can make out, we have now heard of 5 suggested routes around the Benn Act, the legislation which would compel the PM to seek a delay of Brexit until next year if Parliament had not approved a deal or no deal by 19 October. All, I think, are dead ends.
Route 1 (ht @owenjbennett): send letter requesting extension as required, but also an "explainer" which says that he doesn't really want one. Dead end because unlawful: the Act says he must "seek to obtain" an extension, and he wouldn't be doing so.…
Route 2 (ht @JolyonMaugham): Get MPs to vote for a deal - so the duty to seek an extension falls away - but don't get them to vote for legislation to implement the deal. Under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018, that means HMG can't ratify. Hence no deal.…
Dead end, I think, because (a) there isn't a majority for a deal in the first place, and (b) would require the PM to whip MPs into an extraordinary double-think, saying "vote for the deal to get no deal", and (c) Parliament, now it's sitting, could legislate again to prevent this
Route 3 (ht John Major): simply try to use an "Order of Council" (or possibly Order in Council), a type of secondary legislation not requiring parliamentary approval, to suspend the Benn Act. A dead end because patently unlawful. See the Bill of Rights:
Route 4 (ht @JolyonMaugham): use an Order in Council, but under Part 2 of the Civil Contingencies Act, which allows the Government to suspend Acts of Parliament to deal with an emergency. Unlawful, because this isn't an emergency. See @ProfMarkElliott:
Route 5 (ht @JudgeJohnHack): argue that the Benn Act is itself unlawful under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. (While we are still in the EU, EU law prevails over UK law.)…
Dead end, I think, because it's hard to find EU lawyers who think there's a shred of sense in this argument.
So I don't think the PM can get round the Benn Act intentionally. But no deal could still happen by accident, by a variation of Route 3: MPs vote for a deal, but run out of time to pass the necessary legislation. See @ThimontJack here:…
All in all, increasingly worried that Boris Johnson is picking a fight with the courts on purpose in order to burnish his Brexit credentials. This threatens the rule of law, as I explained here.
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