Boris Johnson and his advisers are reportedly ready to tell the Queen she cannot sack him, even if he loses a no-confidence vote in the Commons later this month – a plan ridiculed by lawyers and historians.

It comes as the prime minister is preparing a dramatic Saturday sitting of parliament on 19 October in a last-gasp attempt to avoid having to ask the EU for a Brexit delay.

With talks in Brussels thought to be close to collapse, Mr Johnson spoke to his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar over the phone on Tuesday night and the pair are expected to meet in person later this week.

We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.

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2019-10-09T11:20:28.866Z

Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has said there is a drugs problem in parliament.

Questioned on whether there is a drink problem in parliament at the hustings event for candidates to replace the Speaker, Hoyle said: “I do think there is a drink problem and I think it needs to be addressed and the support needs to be given, that’s why health and well-being has got to be extended.

“It’s not just drink we’ve got to catch out, there is a drug problem, and I genuinely believe that counselling and real support should be available for all staff and members.”

“I think, I believe there will be a drug problem – there is a drug problem right across this country.

“I don’t believe that somebody who walks in here may not be tempted into drugs, and what I’m saying is that we should have health and well-being in place for drink and drug counselling and real support for anybody.”

Our correspondent Lizzy Buchan is at the hustings, and says lots of candidates promising to crack down on … clapping.


2019-10-09T11:14:42.473Z

Did you know Boris Johnson once wrote a film script for an Indiana Jones-style blockbuster called Mission to Assyria?

Readers of The Independent’s daily Inside Politics newsletter (sign up for free here) will know the “hilariously awful” script was recently unearthed by David Cameron’s sister.

In his latest interview, Johnson has admitted he sent the script to a “very distinguished director” in 2015 but didn’t hear anything back. “I was so crestfallen that I didn’t pursue it,” said the PM.

More details here.


2019-10-09T11:06:50.813Z

Boris Johnson earlier this week dismissed Extinction Rebellion activists as “uncooperative crusties” who should stop “littering” the streets of the capital with their “hemp-smelling bivouacs”.

Today the PM’s own father Stanley – a Extinction Rebellion supporter – has addressed a protest event and says he’s proud of being an uncooperative crusty.


2019-10-09T10:55:20.560Z

SNP MP and Benn Act case petitioner Joanna Cherry QC has been talking about the Court of Session delay.

“The prime minister has given his unequivocal word to the court that he will follow the Benn Act and not seek to frustrate it in any way.

“He has also say he will not seek to frustrate Benn Act provisions … he can’t try out any silly tricks to try to frustrate the act.”

Cherry says we should ignore the “unattributable briefings” coming out of No 10.

She said Scotland’s most senior judge said today that the decision will be “held over” to the 21 October to see if the prime minister “keeps his promise”.

“We are unfortunately dealing with a prime minister who has indicated previously that he’s prepared to flout the law and has unlawfully prorogued parliament. So we’re not in normal times.

“So I’m absolutely the court is keeping a watchful brief – it’s been described by others as a Sword of Damocles over Boris Johnson’s head.”


2019-10-09T10:38:15.376Z

MPs running to replace John Bercow as Commons Speaker are taking part in a hustings event in Westminster.

The nine candidates will be questioned for around two hours by journalists. Our correspondent Lizzy Buchan is there, and she says Bercow is receiving some flak.


2019-10-09T10:30:56.656Z

Jo Maugham QC also appears quite pleased with the Court of Session’s decision to delay the case until 21 October.

In his latest blog post, he summarises where the delay leaves us.

On Monday the Court of Session was satisfied that the government “accepts that he must comply with the requirements of the [Benn] Act”.

Maugham writes: “If Boris Johnson adheres to these statements the entire purpose of the litigation … will be satisfied.”

But if Johnson refuses to abide by the Benn Act, the Court of Session can spring back into action on 21 October and rule on whether someone else can legally sign the letter of extension on the PM’s behalf.

“The ability of the Inner House to exercise its nobile officium – and sign the letter or acceptance of an offer of an extension – provides a remedy in relation to documents the Prime Minister unlawfully fails to execute,” writes Maugham.


2019-10-09T10:17:14.613Z

I’m afraid we’re going to have to wait another 12 days for that Court of Session decision.

The judge in Edinburgh has delayed making a decision on the Benn Act extension letter until 21 October – a couple of days after that showdown vote in parliament.

So it allows the court the wait and see if Boris Johnson abides by the legislation or not. Joanna Cherry QC seems pleased.


2019-10-09T10:07:56.126Z

We’re awaiting a decision from the Court of Session in Edinburgh on whether or not a court clerk or another official could sign the Benn Act extension letter on Boris Johnson’s behalf if he refuses to do so. 

But a government lawyer has reportedly claimed the PM could still legally object to the Brexit delay.

According to solicitor Robert Norgrove, the Benn Act cannot prevent Johnson from “honestly stating his view” to the EU – i.e. telling them how much he loathes the damn letter.

We’re expecting Lord Carloway, the lord president of the Court of Session, to deliver a judgement this morning.

Yesterday Lord Carloway said: “If we were granting an order, it wouldn’t be the court clerk. The responsibility might have to be at a higher level.”


2019-10-09T09:39:09.753Z

A couple of splendid pieces of nonsense this morning to add to the already huge lexicon of Brexit absurdisms.

Tory MP Kit Malhouse told BBC Breakfast: “We’re reaching a critical point – if there’s ever a time for jaw-jaw rather than war-war, this is it.”

Labour MP Caroline Flint told the Today programme: “Just get it done, I haven’t a clue how to resolve the Irish border issue, but just get it done.”


2019-10-09T09:31:53.793Z

Could there be hope for a Brexit deal yet?

According to The Times, EU negotiators are prepared to offer a concession: a mechanism for the Northern Ireland Assembly to agree leave a new Irish backstop after a certain number of years.

Diplomatic sources said Brussels might be willing to go along with the proposals to allow Stormont to pull out of the arrangements in the UK proposal – so long as there’s a “double majority” for it.

A double majority is a voting system which requires a majority of votes according to two separate criteria.

The EU is said to be concerned the British proposals would mean the DUP essentially has a veto, allowing the unionist party to pull out of any withdrawal agreement arrangements in 2025.

Brussels wants “parity of esteem” for both unionist and nationalist communities.

But both the DUP and Sinn Fein have dismissed the idea already. So perhaps no hope after all.


2019-10-09T09:14:32.693Z

The BBC’s Norman Smith is correct – 19 October is shaping up to be a whopper, with a big showdown vote in parliament and the People’s Vote march for a Final Say second referendum, supported by The Independent.

More than 170 coaches have been hired to transport anti-Brexit campaigners to London for the protest – expected to be one of the biggest protests in British history.


2019-10-09T08:57:09.236Z

Here’s our Europe editor Jon Stone with more on the latest remarks by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

“I do not accept this ‘blame game’ of pinning the eventual failure of the negotiations on the EU,” said Juncker. “If that’s the case, the explanation is actually in the British camp because the original sin is on the islands and not on the continent.”


2019-10-09T08:51:26.606Z

In case you were wondering, Boris Johnson did submit all the Jennifer Arcuri-related paperwork requested by the Greater London Authority on Tuesday evening.

But only after a 6pm deadline set by the committee investigating his ties with the tech entrepreneur had passed.

A Downing Street source said that a letter of request by oversight committee chair Len Duvall had been delivered late and that the deadline should therefore be pushed to Wednesday, but its response was still submitted shortly after the deadline.


2019-10-09T08:44:42.483Z

Tony Blair gave a speech at a reform Scotland event in Edinburgh last night, again warning Labour and the opposition parties about the dangers of staging a general election in the midst of Brexit chaos.

“This is an elephant trap of width and depth with large neon signs around it, saying ‘Elephant Trap. Elephants of limited awareness please fall in.’

“I say to MPs: avoid it. Have an election by all means; but not to decide Brexit. If Brexit is the question ask it of the people specifically, not in a general election.”


2019-10-09T08:40:30.500Z

Irish finance minister Paschal Donohoe said his government is “more interested in trying to see if there’s a solution rather than engage in the allocation of blame”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he rejected claims that Dublin is seeking to “trap” the UK with Brexit backstop arrangements.

“In terms of the charge that the Irish government is looking to trap anybody in any kind of arrangement, that is absolutely not the case.”


2019-10-09T08:28:26.410Z

Our deputy editor Rob Merrick has the details on the dramatic Saturday sitting of parliament set to take place later this month – Boris Johnson’s last-gasp attempt to avoid having to ask the EU for a Brexit delay.

MPs will be recalled on 19 October, even if there is no agreement to vote on – and forced instead to choose between crashing out of the EU or extending the Article 50 process.


2019-10-09T08:16:14.396Z

Tuesday’s cabinet meeting was said to be pretty unpleasant for Boris Johnson.

Several ministers expressing their concerns about recent “No 10 source” briefings – and a memo thought to have been written by Dominic Cummings that said the Tory party would have to an election manifesto pledge an “immediate” withdrawal from the EU at the next election if talks collapsed.

According to The Times, Nicky Morgan, Julian Smith, Robert Buckland, Matt Hancock and Geoffrey Cox are all on a “resignation watch list”.

The Financial Times is reporting that up to 50 Tory MPs and three ministers could quit the party if the manifesto promised a no-deal Brexit.


2019-10-09T08:05:21.550Z

According to the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, the government will call an emergency sitting of parliament on Saturday, 19 October – the first Saturday sitting in the Commons since a debate over the Falklands War in 1982.

It appears the government could be set to force a showdown vote on a no-deal Brexit – or the extension demanded by the Benn Act.

The 19 October, remember, is the date that the prime minister must send a letter to the EU asking for an extension (if he hasn’t achieved a deal, which is looking increasingly unlikely).


2019-10-09T07:54:21.220Z

Speaker John Bercow has dismissed what he called attacks on parliament “low grade and vulgar to the extreme”.

In a wide-ranging interview with CNN about his time as Speaker, he said he was “entirely unmoved by some of the more downmarket attacks on Parliament that have been launched in recent times.

“They are unworthy, they don’t amount to a row of beans and I’m not intimidated by them,” he added.

He also said of Brexiteers who have claimed bias on his part: “If you are losing the match, it’s quite bad form to blame the referee.”

“I wouldn’t say I’m a Remainer enabler. I would say that I’m an enabler of all colleagues across the House who want to express their different points of view. I thought the Brexiteers were in favour of taking back control of parliament being in the driving seat? Well, they can’t have it both ways.”

Later in the interview, he came close to tears as he reflected on murdered MP Jo Cox.

The Buckingham MP was shown a video clip of him paying tribute to Ms Cox in the Commons following her death in 2016. Fighting back tears, Bercow told CNN that he remembered the moment “very keenly” and “the sentiment is very raw”.

He said: “Really, Jo was a great exponent of that principle of political difference, personal amiability. It should be possible for us as democrats for us to disagree agreeably.”


2019-10-09T07:43:50.240Z

Boris Johnson spoke to his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar over the phone on Tuesday night and the pair are set to meet in person later this week, according to Downing Street.

The British prime minister may be keen to be seen trying to “rescue” his Brexit deal, but there doesn’t appear to be anything left to rescue after the mood music turned extremely sour in the past 24 hours.

While European Council president Donald Tusk accused Johnson of launching a “stupid blame game”, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said that any blame for a no-deal Brexit would lie “in the British camp”.

Juncker warned: “A Brexit without an agreement would lead to a collapse of the United Kingdom.”

More details here.

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