Scottish judges will not rule on a bid to compel UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to obey a law designed to block a “no-deal” Brexit until after a key European Union summit.
They have delayed their ruling until October 22, days after the parliament’s deadline to reach a Brexit divorce deal, and days before the United Kingdom is due to crash out of the EU by automatic operation of law on October 31.
Under legislation known as the Benn Act, passed with the assistance of a “rebel alliance” of Conservative MPs - who were subsequently sacked from the governing party - the prime minister is obliged to request a delay if no withdrawal deal is agreed between the UK and the EU by October 19.
The European Council of the heads of EU nations is set to meet on October 17 and 18.
In the court in Edinburgh on Tuesday, the government argued it had already undertaken to follow the law. Furthermore, its lawyers said, the deadline for a deal had not yet been reached, and so it would be inappropriate for the court to pass judgment at this time.
Meanwhile, Britain and the European Union yesterday agreed to hold last-ditch talks aimed at securing a Brexit deal with just days left to thrash out an agreement, as each side trades accusations of a failure to compromise.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay will meet his EU counterpart Michel Barnier in Brussels today in an attempt to break the impasse before the October 17-18 summit.
After tempers frayed on both sides of the Channel on Tuesday, Barnier promised the bloc “will remain calm, respectful and constructive”.
“I think a deal is possible and very difficult but possible,” he told Sky News television.