LONDON • British lawmakers are preparing legal action in case Prime Minister Boris Johnson tries to defy legislation compelling him to seek a further delay to Brexit, the BBC reported yesterday.
An opposition Bill which would force Mr Johnson to ask the European Union for an extension to Britain’s departure to avoid a no-deal exit on Oct 31 was approved by Parliament’s appointed upper chamber, the House of Lords, last Friday.
Queen Elizabeth is expected to sign it into law tomorrow.
The government had no immediate comment on the BBC report, which said lawmakers, including Conservatives expelled last week from Mr Johnson’s ruling party, have lined up a legal team and are willing to go to court to enforce the legislation if necessary.
Mr Johnson, a leader of the campaign to leave the EU during the 2016 Brexit referendum, took office in July after his Conservative Party predecessor, Mrs Theresa May, quit following three failed attempts to get a deal with Brussels through Parliament.
The new Prime Minister says he wants to take Britain out of the EU on Oct 31, with or without a deal with the bloc.
Mr Johnson has said he has no intention of seeking an extension and would rather “die in a ditch” than delay Brexit.
The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that Mr Johnson is prepared to defy Parliament’s instruction to request an extension to the Brexit process if he fails to agree on a new deal.
The newspaper quoted Mr Johnson as saying he was only bound “in theory” by the new legislation.
Former deputy prime minister David Lidington said obeying the rule of law was a fundamental principle of the ministerial code.
“Defying any particular law sets a really, really dangerous precedent,” he told BBC radio.
Mr Johnson says the only solution to the Brexit deadlock is a new election, which he wants to take place on Oct 15, allowing him to win a new mandate with two weeks left to leave on time.
Two-thirds of Parliament’s lawmakers need to back an early election, but Opposition parties, including Labour, said they would either vote against or abstain on this until the law to force Mr Johnson to seek a Brexit delay is implemented.