BRITISH prime minister Boris Johnson is facing the prospect of being sent to prison for breaking the law as he looks set to defy parliament and refuse to enact recent a bill which compels him to ask for delay to the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU).
Yesterday, the UK’s House of Lords approved the recent bill passed by the House of Commons compelling prime minister Boris Johnson to extend Brexit until January 31. Under British law Mr Johnson has to now take the bill to the queen to give it royal ascent, asking the EU for a three month extension of his plans to leave the community.
However, Mr Johnson has vowed to block the bill, meaning he may refuse to take the bill to the queen or may even ignore it if it is passed into law. Former attorney general Dominic Grieve, has warned that the prime minister who is acting like a spoilt child having a tantrum, could face imprisonment if he breaks the law in this way.
Defiant Mr Johnson has said he will not agree an extension, despite parliament passing a law forcing him to do so. As a result, lawyers have already begun preparing legal action against him, with Lord Ken Macdonald, a former director of public prosecutions between 2003 and 2008, pointing out that legal action would mean a court ordering that the law should be followed.
Lord Macdonald said: “A refusal in the face of that would amount to contempt of court which could find that person in prison. This is not an extreme outcome as it was convention that individuals who refuse to purge their contempt are sent to prison.”
Mr Grieve, the Beaconsfield MP, expelled from the Conservatives this week for backing an anti-no-deal law and former attorney general, said: “If he refuses to obey the law he will be sent to prison for contempt.”
Former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption added there would be plenty of ways to enforce the law, pointing out that MPs opposed to no-deal could apply for an injunction ordering Mr Johnson to authorise a delay. He added that if the prime minister still refused to comply, a judge could make an order demanding that a government official signs off the extension in place of the prime minister.
Lord Sumption added: “He’s not going to be marched off to Pentonville Prison. It’s much less dramatic than all that.”
He pointed out that he thought it was unlikely to get to that point as senior civil servants would refuse to co-operate with a prime minister who was wilfully breaking the law. According to Lord Sumption, it is only the fanatics around the prime minister who will be keen to defy parliament.