The government's chief legal officer resigns over the prime minister's Brexit plans

The government judicial officer in charge of Scotland, Lord Keen, is stepping down over Boris Johnson's plans to tear apart parts of the Brexit divorce deal

  • Lord Keen of Elie was the Government's Advocate General for Scotland
  • He offered Boris Johnson his resignation this morning over the Prime Minister's Brexit plans
  • Downing Street announced tonight that Lord Keen had left the government
  • It comes after the peer clashes with Northern Irish secretary Brandon Lewis

One of the government's chief legal officers has resigned over Boris Johnson's controversial Brexit plans.

Lord Keen of Elie, the Advocate General for Scotland, reportedly resigned because he was deeply dissatisfied with Mr Johnson's proposals to tear apart parts of the Brexit divorce deal that ministers said would violate international law.

Lord Keen, who served as the UK Government's Justice Officer for Scotland, submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister this morning.

However, amid speculation, it was not immediately accepted that the ministers were trying to persuade him to remain in his post.

However, a Downing Street spokesman said in a statement released tonight: “Lord Keen has resigned as Advocate General for Scotland. The Prime Minister thanks him for his service. & # 39;

The peer had told the Press and Journal this morning: "The first thing I did this morning was to submit my resignation to the Prime Minister, I haven't heard from the Prime Minister."

Mr Johnson appeared to confirm that Ministers had struggled to keep Lord Keen in government and told the Liaison Committee this afternoon that "talks on the matter are continuing".

Lord Keen's decision to quit is likely to heighten concerns among senior Conservatives, who are dismayed at the idea that Britain might withdraw its international treaty obligations.

The peer came into the spotlight last September when he represented the government in its case before the Supreme Court over Mr Johnson's decision to extend Parliament.

Lord Keen clashed with Northern Irish Secretary Brandon Lewis this week over the legality of the Prime Minister's Brexit plans.

Lord Keen von Elie, the Advocate General for Scotland, has resigned over Boris Johnson's controversial Brexit plans

Lord Keen: The government advocate for Brexit who lost the Supreme Court battle over the deal

Lord Keen came into the spotlight last September when he represented the government during the Supreme Court bombing over Boris Johnson's plans to back Parliament.

The Advocate General for Scotland had argued that the Prime Minister's decision to suspend Parliament in the run-up to Brexit was legitimate and that judges should not interfere in political matters.

However, his arguments were rejected by the court as it unanimously ruled that Parliament's agreement was illegal.

The case had been brought by the ore remnants Gina Miller represented by Lord Pannick QC.

The arguments Lord Keen and Lord Pannick advanced during the three-day hearing caught the nation as they challenged it in a trial that sparked a political earthquake.

Lord Keen had already represented the government in the Article 50 Brexit court proceedings in 2016/17.

Mr Lewis told MPs last week that the measures contained in the UK's Single Market Act "will break international law in very specific and limited ways".

But yesterday Lord Keen said the Northern Irish secretary had "answered the wrong question".

In the House of Lords, the peer said that the legislation was not a "violation of international law or the rule of law".

He said: “I have convinced myself of the right legal situation in this context.

"I think the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has essentially answered the wrong question."

But Mr Lewis hit back this morning when he testified before the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee.

He said to the MPs: "I have spoken to Lord Keen and I have to say … If I look at the specific question my honorable friend asked me last week, he agrees that the answer I gave that was right. "

Mr Lewis reiterated that the government's official legal advice to ministers is that overwriting key parts of the Brexit divorce deal would violate international law.

He claimed that his claim in the Commons last week was "absolutely in line" with the views of the top lawyers advising the government.

The minister said: “I gave Parliament a very clear answer last week, in line with the position of the Attorney General.

"My position is absolutely in line with the legal advice given by the Attorney General."

Lord Keen is stepping down as Treasury Solicitor and Head of the Government Legal Profession a week after Sir Jonathan Jones stepped down.

He reportedly resigned over Mr Johnson's plans to depart from parts of the Brussels divorce deal.