October 16, 2019 / 9:32 AM / a month ago

UK minister: PM will abide by pledge to write Brexit delay letter

LONDON (Reuters) - British Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay said the government would comply with assurances given to a Scottish court that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would write a letter to the EU requesting a Brexit delay if a deal is not reached by Oct. 19.

Britain and the EU are locked in negotiations to try and seal a Brexit divorce deal this week, but talks have hit a standstill, EU sources said earlier.

The British parliament passed a law last month which would require Johnson to request a three-month delay if parliament has not approved an exit agreement by the end of Saturday. Johnson has said both that he will obey the law and that he will not request a delay.

Earlier this month the government’s top legal officer in Scotland gave assurances that Johnson would fully comply with the so-called Benn Act and write the letter asking for an extension and, if the EU offered one, he would accept it.

Asked repeatedly by the opposition Labour lawmaker behind that legislation, Hilary Benn, whether Johnson would write the letter, Barclay avoided repeating those exact words but said the government would abide its pledge to the court.

“I can confirm, as the prime minister has repeatedly set out, that firstly the government will comply with the law and secondly will comply with the undertakings given to the court in respect of the law,” Barclay told a committee of lawmakers.

Barclay also said Britain had submitted the draft text of a new political declaration - one part of a Brexit deal with the EU sets out the direction of a long term relationship with the bloc.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, Kylie MacLellan and William James, editing by Estelle Shirbon

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