Former Liberal Democrats leader Vince Cable has claimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson could declare a state of emergency to deliver a clean-break Brexit on October 31st.
The Benn Act prevents the prime minister taking the United Kingdom out of the EU without a deal unless he has the consent of Parliament. The law also forces Mr Johnson to ask Brussels for another Brexit delay if he is unable to pass an EU-approved exit treaty in the House of Commons by October 19th.
However, Mr Cable told POLITICO on Thursday: “My worry at the moment is that the government might try to fabricate an emergency situation as a pretext for pushing through changes around a no-deal Brexit that they otherwise cannot secure in parliament.”
“There is a risk that we get an agent provocateur… which the government uses as a pretext to obtaining emergency powers,” added the elderly politician, who once described Leave voters as “Brexit jihadis”.
The then-party leader made headlines during May’s European Parliament elections with the colourful campaign slogan: “Bollocks to Brexit.”
The phrase was picked up by his successor Jo Swinson who said at last month’s conference: “When I say Bollocks to Brexit, I mean it” and has said she would not Brexit even if the British people voted for it a second time.
First Known Case of Brexit-Triggered Psychosis Confirmed in Remain Voter https://t.co/lCq9ZTwmdq
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 2, 2019
A spokesman for Downing Street told POLITICO that “The PM has said that what we want to do is get a deal, and get Brexit done on October 31st without any further pointless delay. Yesterday, we put forward a fair and reasonable compromise, that we hope should provide the basis for rapid negotiations towards a solution.
“There is no purpose in discussing hypothetical scenarios around the Benn Act. It is without question that the Prime Minister will comply with the law.”
The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 allows ministers to declare a state of emergency for 30 days. The legislation also grants the government powers to put in place measures to deal with threats to human welfare or crises that threaten the nation’s security.
This week, anti-Brexit campaigner Jolyon Maugham, SNP MP Joanna Cherry, and businessman Dale Vince took a case to Scotland’s Court of Session to try to force Boris Johnson to ask for an extension or face punishment including a fine or imprisonment.
Prime Minister Johnson has said that while his government will not break the law, he will refuse to ask for the extension to Article 50 to January 31st, 2020, repeating the pledge as recently as this week in Parliament.
However, Sky News reports on Friday that the government has told the Court of Session that Prime Minister Johnson will seek an extension if no exit treaty is agreed by October 19th.
European Union Could Bypass Johnson to Delay Brexit https://t.co/YRvf9RsAwa
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 3, 2019