Anti-Brexit Lawyer Admits a ‘Flaw’ in Remainer Act Could Allow No Deal Exit

Pro-Brexit activist Joseph Afrane holds placards as he demonstrates outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London on March 28, 2019. - Faced with losing all control over the Brexit process, British Prime Minister Theresa May looks to have played her final card by announcing she will step down if …

Prominent anti-Brexit activist and lawyer Jolyon Maugham has admitted that there is a “flaw” in the Benn Act which could allow a no deal Brexit on October 31st.

Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May had agreed a withdrawal treaty with the EU, but it was voted down three times in the House of Commons. While Mr Johnson still pursues a renegotiated deal with the bloc, he had pledged Brexit on October 31st, with or without a deal. However, the Remainer-dominated Parliament sought to thwart a clean break and succeeded in passing a law to stop no deal and force Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek another extension of Article 50.

Mr Maugham — who secured the ruling from the European Court of Justice the British government, including a future Labour government, could cancel Brexit — wrote with concern that Remainer compatriots in the House of Commons would have to “take counter-measures” to thwart a clean Brexit, as the legislation is not water-tight, meaning the UK could still leave the EU on October 31st without a deal.

The loophole the lawyer outlines is that if MPs approve the withdrawal treaty by October 19th, under the terms of the Benn Act the prime minister would not then be obliged to seek an extension of Article 50. However, Mr Johnson may then choose to not accept that approved deal, and continue to take the UK out of the EU in a clean break.

He explained that this could be achieved if Mr Johnson agreed “privately” with the group of Tory Eurosceptics in the European Research Group (ERG) — who have objected to May’s deal — an agreement where if they support his withdrawal act (WA) he will “‘deliver No Deal'”.

“In those circumstances, with the help of some Labour MPs, the Commons might approve even Theresa May’s WA. The PM would thus have escaped the obligation in the Benn Act to request an extension and could deliver No Deal,” Mr Maugham wrote.

The Government is currently defending its decision to prorogue Parliament, which Remainer Parliamentarians and activists interpret as a direct obstruction to their continued challenges to Brexit, with Mr Maugham observing that even if the Government loses and MPs are recalled, it could “again suspend Parliament… And we would leave without a deal.”

“Indeed, even without again suspending Parliament, he may well be able to deliver No Deal simply by refusing to put before the Commons an Act implementing the Withdrawal Agreement. In such circumstances the Further Obligations would not be satisfied in advance of 31 October 2019 and we would leave with No Deal,” he added.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab suggested on Monday that Prime Minister Johnson could get out of the “deeply flawed” Benn Act and deliver no deal Brexit, saying: “The precise implications need to be looked at very carefully.”

The speculation comes amidst reports that Prime Minister Johnson is to revive May’s treaty for a fourth vote, which, despite Mr Maugham’s theory that the ERG would vote for the deal tactically, could result in a showdown with Brexiteer ‘Spartans’ in the backbench who refuse to pass the withdrawal agreement bill.


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