Senior government legal adviser resigns amid row over Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans

Labor said the chaos around the PM’s new legislation was a ‘farce that shames the whole government’

Boris Johnson comes under increasing pressure over his new plan to tear apart parts of his own Brexit deal – which violates international law

One of the government’s top legal advisers has resigned amid an ongoing row over Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans.

Lord Keen, Scotland’s Advocate General, tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister on Wednesday after struggling to endure the controversial new Brexit legislation.

In his resignation letter he said: “Over the past week I have found it increasingly difficult to reconcile what I consider to be my obligations as a lawyer with your political intentions regarding the UKIM bill. .

“I have tried to identify a respectable argument for the provisions of clauses 42 to 45 of the bill, but it is now clear that this will not meet your political intentions.

“In these circumstances, I consider it my duty to resign from your government.

The Conservative peer initially claimed that the new Internal Market bill did not violate international law and attempted to suggest that Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis had “answered the wrong question” when he made the explosive statement in the Commons last week.

But Mr Lewis contradicted him on Wednesday by insisting that he “gave a very direct response to Parliament last week in accordance with the position of the Attorney General”.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “Lord Keen has resigned his post of Advocate General for Scotland.

Lord Richard Keen, Scotland’s Advocate General, has offered to step down following Prime Minister’s Brexit deal



“The Prime Minister thanks him for his service.”

Lord Keen tendered his resignation hours before the PM appeared before the powerful Liaison Committee, made up of senior backbenchers.

Frantic efforts were made to keep Lord Keen in office.

Mr Johnson told the committee that conversations were “underway” before Downing Street finally announced his departure.

Shadow Attorney General Lord Falconer said: ‘It has been a week of chaos for the government’s own lawyers, who have given up on legal advice from their own government and the lawyers’ voice has been cut off, and their authority is completely dejected.

“It is a farce that shames the whole government.”

Lord Keen’s resignation comes after the government’s top legal official, Jonathan Jones, has left to protest the plans.

Rehman Chishti, the prime minister’s envoy for religious freedom, also resigned.

The new bill would undo key elements of the Brexit deal reached with the EU – which ministers admit violates international law.

Brexit news and Brexit explained

The move was condemned by the five living former prime ministers, including Tories Theresa May, Sir John Major and David Cameron.

It has also sparked furor abroad, with the EU threatening legal action if the controversial parts of the bill are not removed by the end of the month.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament “that with each passing day the chances of a timely deal begin to fade”.

She said the UK could not “unilaterally” tear up parts of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and insisted that Margaret Thatcher would not have broken an international treaty.

Senior US politicians have also criticized the move and threatened to block a US-UK trade deal in Congress.

Amid a furious backlash, Mr Johnson and his team were trying to woo Tory MPs to back the bill in critical votes next week.

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