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Boris Johnson could be forced to delay Brexit, says Justice Secretary



Boris Johnson could be forced to delay Brexit, despite repeatedly insisting that he won’t, the UK Justice Secretary has said.

Opposition members of parliament passed a new law earlier this month which is designed to force the prime minister to seek another delay to Brexit, if he has failed to ratify a Brexit deal with the EU by the middle of October.

Following its passage Johnson insisted that there were “no circumstances” in which he would request an extension, adding that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than request another delay.

Other ministers, including the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, have suggested that there may be loopholes in the law that would allow the UK government to avoid seeking an extension.

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Senior government sources have also reportedly suggested that the prime minister would simply refuse to follow the law.

However, Johnson’s Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, on Tuesday told Sky News that the government could have little choice but to accept a delay if it were offered.

He said the law has the effect of “forcing the British government to accept an extension if it is offered one.”

He added that “this government is not about breaking the law.”

Buckland described Raab’s comment that the law was “flawed” as being political “commentary.”

“It is entirely appropriate for colleagues to argue and analyse what this act of parliament means but that is very different from countenancing breaking the rule of law,” he said.

“That is not what we are about that is not what we will do.”

This is the second time that Buckland has intervened to insist that the UK government will not break the law.

Following newspaper reports earlier this month that he was on the brink of resigning over Johnson’s threats to break the law on a Brexit delay, Buckland tweeted that he warned the prime minister against such a move.

“Speculation about my future is wide of the mark. I fully support the Prime Minister and will continue to serve in his Cabinet,” he tweeted.

“We have spoken over the past 24 hours regarding the importance of the Rule of Law, which I as Lord Chancellor have taken an oath to uphold.”

The UK Supreme Court will sit on Tuesday for the first day of a case on whether Johnson acted illegally by suspending parliament earlier this month. The verdict is expected on Thursday.

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