Letters: Boris Johnson can negate the Benn Act’s command to extend Article 50

Boris Johnson during a debate in the House of Commons
Boris Johnson during a debate in the House of Commons Credit: Rex

SIR – As a law-abiding citizen Boris Johnson must sign and send the letter requesting a further extension to the Brexit deadline. However, he is perfectly entitled to send a covering letter that makes it clear that it was written, not by him, but by a member or members of the opposition parties in the House of Commons; that he signed it under duress; that it represents neither his views nor those of the Cabinet; and that the next Conservative government would be committed to leaving the European Union.

He might add that the opposition parties have been offered the opportunity to dissolve Parliament, hold a general election, and appoint an administration in accordance with their views, but have repeatedly declined it.

If, in those circumstances, at least one EU member state did not think it prudent to veto the application, I would be very surprised.

Dr Nicholas Shrimpton


SIR – As my grandmother, who had three sons, used to say: “You can make a boy apologise, but you can’t make him mean it.”

Cynthia Ellis
Northwood, Middlesex



SIR – Is there any stipulation as to the method by which Mr Johnson must send his letter requesting a Brexit extension?

If he were to place it in a village postbox late on a Friday afternoon, it would be unlikely to arrive in time for the EU to act on it.

Christopher Dixon
Sevenoaks, Kent


SIR – Whether or not Boris Johnson can legally prevent a delay to Brexit is irrelevant, as I read that France would veto any request from Britain for an extension. My understanding is that it only requires one country from the 27 to object to Britain’s request, so the Remainers may have already lost.

Malcolm Sapsford
Congleton, Cheshire


SIR – When Boris Johnson is in prison, would it be a good idea for all 17,410,742 of the electorate who voted for Brexit to visit him – perhaps on the same day?

Richard R Dolphin
West Hatch, Somerset



SIR – It’s early November 2019. The Prime Minister is appearing in court.

He admits that he did not seek an extension from the European Union and the application is to commit him to prison. The Prime Minister is asked what he has to say: “I honestly believed I was carrying out the will of the majority of the British people.”

He receives a prison sentence. The headlines read: “British Prime Minister sent to prison for his honest political beliefs.”

Is this likely to happen, given that it would mean sacrificing any claim to moral authority in our dealings with the rest of the world? I don’t think so. Therefore the legislation now going through Parliament is toothless. If it’s toothless, it’s pointless. And what attention does a reasonable person pay to something that’s pointless?

Roger Jarvis
Poundbury, Dorset


SIR – Is it fair or legally possible for Parliament to force something on the primus inter pares? Can there be a collective prime minister? Are we witnessing something similar to the medieval Conciliar movement, which usurped the role of the pontiff?

Is it possible that the rebel parliamentarians might “elect” a rival prime minister while the present one is still in place, like the multiple popes of old? And if this is the case, is Parliament merely schismatic, or are we faced with the constitutionally heretical?

Dr Frank Millard
Reigate, Surrey


SIR – The resignation of John Bercow as Speaker is much to be welcomed. In 50 years of following politics, I can think of no other Speaker who has done more damage to the institution he is there to serve.

Brian Clarke
London W6



SIR – The wonderful news that Mr Bercow intends to step down at the end of October will be spoilt for me if he is then rewarded for his behaviour with a seat in the Lords

Mike Edwards
Ettington, Warwickshire



SIR – The advice I would give to Sue Beale (Letters, September 6), who is both a constituent of Theresa May and a Brexiteer, is to vote for Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister must be supported by all those who believe in the right and the responsibility to regain our independence as a nation, for the freedom to do so without interference, and to honour our unique and much valued relationship with the Commonwealth.

Lady Winterton
Congleton, Cheshire


SIR – We both – lifelong Conservatives – joined the Conservative Party recently. We are, therefore, what Philip Hammond calls “entryists”.

The reason we have joined is that we now have a leader we can believe in, who, despite the efforts of Mr Hammond and his cronies, will actually do something about the mess this country faces.

Of course, we live outside the M25 and therefore do not know what we are talking about. We, who put our house on the line in order to succeed in business, are ignorant of how businesses can prosper. We both started businesses with no-deal being the default setting, and both prospered.

We wish to thank Mr Hammond: he has clarified our thinking. We will back Boris Johnson to return this country to its rightful position as a world leader, not a vassal state.

Richard and Cynthia Atwell
Lichfield, Staffordshire


SIR – Theresa May has joined those calling for the whip to be reinstated to the Tory rebels.

Has she, and others such as Amber Rudd, forgotten that Rupert Allason, the only Conservative MP who refused to vote (he abstained) for the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, had the whip immediately suspended by the prime minister, John Major?

Gerard Noel
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire



SIR – The removal of the whip from some Conservative MPs, and the resignations of so-called moderates, is simply part of the natural realignment of the party.

This evolution will ensure that the Conservative Party remains the oldest and most successful in the world. I liken it to turning the computer off and back on again.

Stephen James
Folkestone, Kent


SIR – The Conservative rebels could be likened to rats deserting a sinking ship, except that in this case it is the rats chewing through the hull that caused the ship to sink.

Ian Mortimer
Torrox, Málaga, Spain


SIR – I was interested by Lebby Eyres’s account (Features, September 7) of Dominic Cummings’s time as an undergraduate at Exeter College, Oxford.

As a historian, Mr Cummings will be aware of the parallels between his own career and that of the college’s founder, Bishop Walter de Stapledon. Stapledon was King John’s “fixer” and was responsible for many of his unpopular policies, including the king’s punitive system of taxation.

However, the precedent is not all bad for him, because during John’s reign we were expelled from the French territories occupied by his Plantagenet predecessors.

No doubt Mr Cummings has worked out how to avoid Stapledon’s fate. He was pursued by the baying London crowd and hacked to death after taking refuge in a church.

Dr Huw Alban Davies
Otford, Kent


SIR – The BBC either has a sense of irony or a sense of the ridiculous (or both), as it has programmed Grainger’s Marching Song of Democracy for the Last Night of the Proms.

Jane Moth
Snettisham, Norfolk


Pavement parking

SIR – You report (September 9) that MPs have urged ministers “to follow London” in outlawing parking on pavements.

In my neck of suburbia, pavement parking is endemic. It is not at all unusual to see large 4x4s selfishly parked with all but one pair of wheels on the pavement. If the police are unwilling to enforce the law in London, what is the point of extending it to other parts of the country?

Brian Gedalla
London N3


SIR – The proposed ban on pavement parking is a fine idea. However, there was a government initiative a while ago to force councils to remove speed bumps. I have never seen any evidence that it was carried through.

What happens between the headline and the action?

Patsie Goulding
Reigate, Surrey


Batty places

All Saints church at Braunston in Rutland, where bats are roosting and causing damage Credit: John Robertson

SIR – The battle for the presence of bats in churches is unending, but those people who object to sitting on bat droppings (even where they are dryish) have a reasonable objection.

For the greater part of my professional career as a church architect, I frequently encountered not only the “dry, comminuted insect exosketons” described by Steve Haynes (Letters, September 4), but also many instances of articles – brass plaques, furnishing and pews – damaged by bat urine.

Bats do not “belong” in churches any more than mice and rats do.

Terence Moody
Winscombe, Somerset


SIR – I am an organist in a country church that has a superb pipe organ.

After a recent service, a visitor engaged me in conversation about the quality of the instrument, commenting on the beautifully florid paintwork on the organ pipes. He was taken aback when I told him the patina on the pipes was bat excrement.

William McBride
Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh


First-class cricket

Australia's cricketers celebrate taking the wicket of Craig Overton to win the Old Trafford Test match and retain the Ashes  Credit: Getty

SIR – How can Scyld Berry (Sport, September 9) say “it is not going to be English cricket’s finest summer” when we won the World Cup?

I find it sad to read so much negativity about what many consider to be one of the finest cricketing teams we have ever had. If it had not been for the time lost to rain in the second Test at Lords, they would probably have won. The loss of James Anderson, our all-time best wicket taker, also made a huge difference.

Paul Hayward says “the summer has been wonderful”, and how right he is. I have never enjoyed cricket so much.

Wendy May



SIR – If private schools are abolished (report, September 8), where will the next generation of England cricketers come from?

Roger Bird
Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan


Knee-high help

SIR – Poor Dr Lawrence Green (Letters, September 9), with his half-mast socks and, no doubt, inches of white shin showing when he sits down.

For 50 years I have worn long socks that end just below the knee. The shape of the calf muscle, which forces ordinary socks down, ensures they stay up without a wrinkle.

Dr A E Hanwell



Letters to the Editor

We accept letters by post, fax and email only. Please include name, address, work and home telephone numbers.
ADDRESS: 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0DT
FAX: 020 7931 2878
EMAIL: [email protected]
FOLLOW: Telegraph Letters on Twitter @LettersDesk