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Joanna Cherry: EU is taking PM's Brexit extension request seriously despite contradicting letters

Joanna Cherry thinks she has a plan to secure a Brexit extension. Credit: PA

Joanna Cherry - the SNP MP behind the a historic court intervention over the suspension of Parliament - has said the EU is taking Boris Johnson's request for an extension seriously, despite his refusal to sign it.

During a special Sunday edition of ITV's Peston programme Ms Cherry suggested Mr Johnson could be in contempt of court over his tactics.

The PM sent a letter to the EU requesting an extension, as required by the so-called Benn Act, he did not sign it and sent a second letter – which he signed – saying a delay would be a mistake.

Ms Cherry said that could be viewed as an attempt to "frustrate" the Benn Act, but insisted her focus would not be on what happens in Edinburgh's Court of Session - which is due to rule on the matter.

Instead, she said her next step toward stopping a no-deal Brexit would be negotiating an extension, which she claims the EU is taking seriously.

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"The good news is the EU who I think are the grown-ups in the room have overlooked the childish tricks and are taking the extension at face value, taking it seriously," she said.

She added: "Indeed I understand there’s some suggestion tonight of discussion about an extension till February of next year."

Also appearing on Peston's programme was Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who claimed support is growing for the prime minister's Brexit offer.

He said: "I'm optimistic I think it's brilliant that finally it seems to me Parliament is coming behind the deal."

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But he also claimed government is "now ready" to leave the EU without a deal, should MPs not back the agreement.

On Mr Johnson being forced to request an extension through the Benn Act, Mr Hancock said: "You can’t legislate to change somebody’s view.

"My view remains and the prime minister’s view very strongly remains that we should leave on October 31 and a piece of legislation can’t change your mind.”

Labour's Emily Thornberry told Peston that even if the government does have enough support for the Brexit deal, she said there will be "number of amendments" added to it.

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"They say they’ve got the numbers to get it through the second reading, let’s see," she said.

"But let’s say that they’re right and I don’t necessarily accept that they are… Then they’ve got to get this legislation through, and there will be a number of amendments."

She added: "Will they stick together when there are all of these amendments going through?"