Lord Keen: Government law officer resigns over Brexit row

16 September 2020, 15:36 | Updated: 16 September 2020, 20:28

Lord Keen said he had not yet heard back from the PM about his resignation
Lord Keen said he had not yet heard back from the PM about his resignation. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

The UK government's law officer for Scotland, Lord Keen, has resigned amid plans to override international law on the Brexit agreement.

Lord Keen of Elie, the advocate general for Scotland, told the Press and Journal he had tendered his resignation to Boris Johnson on Wednesday morning.

Shortly after 5:30pm, Downing Street confirmed the government's law officer had resigned.

“Lord Keen has resigned as advocate general for Scotland. The prime minister thanks him for his service,” a No 10 spokesperson said.

The announcement came less than two hours after Boris Johnson was unable to tell MPs whether or not the peer was still in his government.

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It comes after Lord Keen is said to have found it difficult to reconcile with the government's plan with the law, telling peers on Tuesday that the UK Internal Market Bill did not "constitute a breach of international law or of the rule of law".

He also said Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis had "answered the wrong question" when he said that bypassing parts of the Withdrawal Agreement would break international law in a "specific and limited way".

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Mr Lewis, however, said he gave "a very straight answer to parliament last week in line with the attorney general's position".

Lord Keen had been advocate general for Scotland since 2015.

Responding to the resignation, Labour's shadow attorney general Lord Falconer said: "This has been a week of chaos from the Government's own law officers, whose legal advice has been renounced by its own government and the voice of the law officers has been muted, and their authority is completely shot.

"This has been a farce that shames the entire Government."

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