Baltimore IT director who went on leave after ransomware attack is no longer employed with the city   

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Baltimore IT director Frank Johnson, who went on leave in September amid criticisms over his handling of the recovery from a crippling ransomware attack, no longer works for the city.

Lester Davis, a spokesman for Democratic Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, confirmed Monday that Oct. 1 was Johnson’s...


          

The Crown Prince.   

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cover imageThe murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi has drawn the world's attention to the young Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). Frontline investigates the rise of MBS, his vision for the future, his handling of dissent, and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
          

Brexit: Boris Johnson claims EU has not explained in detail why it objects to his alternative backstop plan - as it happened   

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Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen

If I may put the point another way, the government accepts that in executing its political policy it must comply with the 2019 Act. That being the government’s clearly stated position before the court, there is no need for coercive orders against it or against the prime minister to be pronounced. The court should not pronounce coercive orders (or decree for interdict) unless it has been established on the basis of cogent evidence that it is truly necessary for such orders to be granted. In my opinion, that has not been done in the present case.

I would add only this. I approach matters on the basis that it would be destructive of one of the core principles of constitutional propriety and of the mutual trust that is the bedrock of the relationship between the court and the crown for the prime minister or the government to renege on what they have assured the court that the prime minister intends to do.

“Ulster says No,” is one of the historic cries of unionism. The DUP’s Sammy Wilson has inverted that in a statement - one of several we’ve had from the party recently - strongly criticising the Irish government for its stance on Brexit. Wilson said:

It seems the ‘not an inch’ approach in Dublin will lead to no deal. How times have changed. Its now a case of ‘Dublin Says No’.

The DUP has worked with the prime minister to place a reasonable proposal on the table. It may not be perfect but it’s a fair deal. It recognises our unique situation and respects the referendum result ...

In response to another urgent question Conor Burns, an international trade minister, has told MPs that the government will publish its plans for the tariffs that would apply in the event of a no-deal Brexit “shortly”. That may mean tomorrow.

Theresa May’s government published its own tariff schedule for no deal, but the new government will take a different approach.

In the Commons James Duddridge, the Brexit minister, has just said that his boss, the Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay, is going around Europe “whipping up support and enthusiasm” for the PM’s Brexit deal.

(If Barclay is supposed to be whipping up enthusiasm for the deal, there is precious little evidence so far that his mission is having any success.)

These are from Dale Vince, the businessman who took the case to the Scottish court of session calling for a ruling saying Boris Johnson would have to obey the Benn Act, along with Joanna Cherry and Jolyon Maugham.

It might not look like it, but we won today. pic.twitter.com/9ecmWqRqmA

It was always my understanding that we couldn’t actually lose this case, because; either the court would issue the injunction obliging BJ to uphold the law - or he would give clear undertakings to the court that he would do so. That’s what happened today…

In her question a few minutes ago Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, said the government’s refusal to publish the legal text would prompt fears that the government was prepared to lower standards. Surely the public had a right to know if the PM was prepared to sacrifice the quality of food on supermarket shelves, the rights of workers to take holiday and the rights of children to breath clean air?

James Duddridge, the Brext minister, replied:

Quite frankly, that’s a load of rubbish.

That is not our intention. And our constituents, if they are worried and scared as a result of what the Liberal Democrats say, that is a terrible thing.

The Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi asked if the DUP had seen the full legal text. Why would it be right for them to see it, but not the other opposition parties.

Duddridge said he would not comment. He said MPs who had been ministers would know that, in a negotiation, different people see different bits of text.

In the Commons Hilary Benn, the Labour chair of the Brexit committee, said something did not add up in relation to what James Duddridge said about there being no need for new infrastructure in Ireland. He said Boris Johnson told the BBC last week there would be a system of customs checks away from the border. But the plan published last week said customs checks would be carried out at traders’ premises, or other designated locations. And it said goods would be under customs supervision as they crossed the border. So how can you have customs checks with no customs infrastructure?

Duddridge replied:

The government are looking for a tailored solution.

Duddridge is responding to Starmer.

He says what the PM said in the Commons on Thursday last week about there being no need for any new infrastructure anywhere was correct.

Starmer is responding.

He says MPs have not seen the 44-page legal text. That means they have to guess, or, even worse, take the PM’s word for it.

Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, has just asked his urgent question on when the government the legal text of its new Brexit plan

James Duddridge, the Brexit minister, is replying.

The SNP has today announced it is setting up a social justice and fairness commission, which it says will show how Scotland could use independence to create a fairer society. It is intended to complement the work of the SNP’s sustainable growth commission, which reported last year. Shona Robison, the former Scottish government’s health secretary who will convene the commission, said:

Independence is fundamentally about creating a better Scotland.

The social justice and fairness commission will explore in detail how we can use the powers of independence to end poverty, tackle inequality and improve the lives of families across Scotland.

@theSNP has announced the membership of a Social Justice and Fairness Commission to build the case for independence – showing how, with full powers, Scotland can tackle poverty and create a fairer society. pic.twitter.com/lDo7r0oTAS

Plaid Cymru has confirmed that it would support Jeremy Corbyn as leader of an interim administration to prevent a no-deal Brexit. A Plaid Cymru source said:

It’s not about who, but about how we stop a disastrous crash-out Brexit. This is about policies not personalities.

The focus now must be on ensuring that the anti-no deal legislation is enacted. We cannot afford to do anything to jeopardise that – that includes playing party political games over who should lead a caretaker administration.

These are from ITV’s Robert Peston.

UK is leaving EU on 31 October without a deal, that EU is poised to reject Johnson’s offer. Without the EU state aid constraints, Treasury could pump money into any businesses affected by no deal that need temporary support

Here is a bit more detail about this. A statutory instrument confirming that the UK would keep the existing EU rules on state aid was supposed to be pushed through tomorrow. This has now been pulled by Downing Street. What is now being debated by ministers and officials is...

"whether and when to pull the existing state-aid statutory instrument and effectively have no state aid regime from 31 October" - which would not need primary legislation, says government official. As I said earlier, this would give Johnson maximum flexibility to help...

businesses damaged by a no-deal Brexit. And Labour is unlikely to kick up a stink, since Corbyn and McDonnell have always been iffy about EU state aid rules, which they see as limiting the freedom of a Labour government to run an interventionist industrial policy.

This is from the SNP MP Joanna Cherry, one of the people who brought the case to the Scottish court of session in an attempt to get a ruling that Boris Johnson must comply with the Benn Act. She said:

As a result of this important court action, we have forced the Tory government to concede that the prime minister will comply with the law, and promise to send a letter requesting a Brexit extension and not frustrate the purpose of the Benn Act.

However, given Boris Johnson’s slippery track record of acting unlawfully, and the contradictory statements issued by the UK government - we do not trust the Tory leader or believe he can be taken at his word to obey the letter and spirit of the law. As such, we will appeal the decision, and expect that appeal to be heard tomorrow.

A senior member of the Home Office’s drugs advisory panel has quit, claiming political interference is undermining its independence. Prof Alex Stevens, who worked on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), has posted a thread on Twitter explaining his decision, which was revealed by the Guardian.

I have resigned from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. Recent political vetting and
exclusion of suitably qualified applicants to join means that the ACMD is losing its independence. A thread to explain follows…

Here is a Guardian video of the Extinction Rebellion protests around Westminster.

This is from Neale Richmond, an Irish senator and Fine Gael Europe spokesperson, explaining for the benefit of Boris Johnson (see 12.32pm) what the EU thinks the problems are with the UK’s Brexit plan.

1) Creates a Customs Border
2) Only partial regulatory alignment
3) Stormont veto (maj only needed in one community)
4) No legal guarantees
5) Technology isn’t in existence
6) Contrary to Dec’17 declaration
7) Far removed from backstop

Bruno Bonnell, a French MP for Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche! party, told Emma Barnett on Radio 5 Live this morning that Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan was “almost like a joke”. He explained:

It’s not a final version - it’s almost like a joke. We don’t even understand it ...

This is not a genuine offer. This is clearly a political manipulation to put the responsibility of a no-deal Brexit on the EU’s side.

First of all, what he is suggesting right now is a very complex process, and even more complicated than what is proposed by the backstop.

Secondly, it’s again a last-minute proposal, as if he wanted to force the issue and put the responsibility of a no-deal Brexit onto the EU’s shoulders.

The European commission said it plans to “take stock” later this week in terms of making an assessment of the UK’s Brexit plan. At its regular, daily briefing, the commission’s chief spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said:

Talks will continue today and this week in order to give the UK the opportunity to present their proposals in more detail and then we will take stock with member states and the European parliament throughout the week.

And, as we have said before, everyday counts in these talks.

Labour MP Stephen Hepburn has been suspended from the party following a complaint of sexual harassment, the Press Association reports. It is understood his case has been referred to the national constitutional committee and he has been suspended pending that process.

Ian Jones from the Press Association has filed this, looking at four potential dates for the general election.

Time is running out for a general election to take place before the Christmas season.

The earliest date for polling day is probably Thursday November 28.

The Green party has proposed the legalisation of drug use in the UK and the establishment of a regulated market with tightly-controlled specialist pharmacies selling currently illegal substances.

It appears to be the first time a UK political party has gone so far as to call for the radical change in drug policy, and it comes amid heightened concern over the exploitation of teenagers by county lines drug gangs and record drug-related deaths. Dr Alex Armitage, the Green party candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington who is leading on the policy told the Guardian:

Our policy stems from the fact that we’re recognising more and more that the prohibition of drugs is a complete and utter failure, particularly for people marginalised in society.

It doesn’t matter if you’re dealer recruited into organised crime group after being excluded from school, or a person who was abused as a child who uses heroin to numb the pain or whether you live in an affluent area and worry about your home being burgled by people who need to steal to enable their drug use. It’s an issue that affects everyone in society in one way or another.

Here is some Twitter comment on the Scottish court judgment.

From the law lecturer and Times journalist Raphael Hogarth

The Court of Session holds there's no need for it to force the PM to comply with the Benn Act and seek an extension, given that his lawyers said he would. But it also fires a warning shot: the PM had better not renege and destroy "core principles of constitutional propriety". pic.twitter.com/c1ISLS0WdB

Lord Pentland @JudgesScotland says the court has to trust @BorisJohnson and @GOVUK law officers are telling the truth: he will obey #BennAct #courtofsession pic.twitter.com/qhpHlddKsi

Key para of the Scottish judgment is here: there can be no doubt that PM accepts he must comply with Benn Act, and that he will not frustrate its purpose. https://t.co/CWdChBPGgd pic.twitter.com/3deOtPy1zV

Paragraph 43 looks like the important one

The government's assurances are legally sufficient, so *no* order needed

Looks like government has now boxed itself into making the application under the Benn Act in the event of No Deal

Case did well to get those promises, so bravo pic.twitter.com/KWmFqVO5xN

If the government now breaks the law, it also will be breaching these "clear and unequivocal" averments to the court

Not a Scots lawyer, but that looks like enough for an order to be made later this month, if need be

So, in essence

As per my analysis a few days ago, No 10 headed off prospect of a court order by making express statements to the court

That could not have been done lightly or without full legal advice

No 10 Ten knew what it was committing to, even if it pretended otherwise

Here is a link to the full text of the Scottish court’s judgment.

The Opinion of Lord Pentland in the petition of DALE VINCE, JOLYON MAUGHAM QC and JOANNA CHERRY QC MP
is now available and can be read in full via this link: https://t.co/8HP6LwSaIp

These are from Jolyon Maugham, the lawyer who has lost the case in Scotland intended to get the court to issue an order compelling Boris Johnson to comply with the Benn Act.

In short, we've lost. THREAD

The Judge has decided that because the Government accepts that it will send the letter and not frustrate the purpose of the Act, it is "neither necessary nor appropriate" to make orders. pic.twitter.com/cTArzEkocC

The Judge adds that the Government's position is underpinned by the fact that the Advocate General for Scotland (the PM's 'man in London' if you like) is an officer of the court. pic.twitter.com/hfgFJ2E2hw

The true heart of the Court's reasoning can be seen in this passage. The true question raised by this case (see next tweet) is whether the Government is committed to this "core principle". pic.twitter.com/k7jYHlpwqz

I expressed this dilemma here (on Friday). I would rather live in the world the Court believes continues to exist. But I doubt we do. https://t.co/PVgXpPjlkl

As we have extracted promises from the Govt, the question whether this loss matters depends on whether you think I am right or the Court is right. But, on any view, there are now risks of an unlawful Brexit that would not, had the decision gone the other way, have existed.

I expect the Inner House of the Court of Session tomorrow to hear our appeal. /ENDS

Here is James Cleverly, the Conservative party chairman’s, take on the Brexit crisis.

Why “more time” doesn’t actually help “get a deal”.

We want a new deal, will leave with no deal if we have to, but no more delays.

#GetBrexitDone. pic.twitter.com/mgXWGNixpH

There are five urgent questions in the Commons today.

5 UQs TODAY from 3:30pm

1. @Keir_Starmer to ask @SteveBarclay to make a statement on when the Government intend to publish the full legal text of their proposed changes to the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration.

2. @ChrisLeslieMP to ask @trussliz
to make a statement on the publication of the UK’s Schedule of Tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

3. @DavidMundellDCT to ask @trussliz on US intention to impose tariffs of 25% on Single Malt Scotch Whisky and other UK products on 18 Oct

4. @DavidDavisMP to ask @patel4witham on Henriques’ report into Met’s Operation Midland

5. @TulipSiddiq to ask @DominicRaab to make a statement on the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, following release of one British-Australian national who was also imprisoned at Evin Prison

During his interviews at Watford hospital Boris Johnson also said he was willing to speak to President Trump about the American diplomat’s wife who is using diplomatic immunity to escape criminal proceedings in relation to a car crash that killed Harry Dunn, 19, in Northamptonshire. Johnson said:

I think everybody’s sympathies are very much with the family of Harry Dunn and our condolences to them for their tragic loss.

I must answer you directly, I do not think that it can be right to use the process of diplomatic immunity for this type of purpose.

Anti-Brexit campaigners have failed in an attempt to force Boris Johnson to ask for an extension to article 50 if he is unable to get a Brexit deal through parliament, my colleague Severin Carrell reports. His story goes on:

Lord Pentland, sitting in the court of session in Edinburgh, rejected their request for a court order instructing the prime minister to seek an extension if he cannot get a deal passed by the Commons this month.

Related: Court rejects latest request to force PM to ask for Brexit extension

Boris Johnson has also restated his claim that the UK will definitely leave the EU on 31 October - even though MPs have passed the Benn Act, which is intended to stop that happening. Asked about the Scottish court case about whether he must send a letter requesting an extension in the event of there being no deal, Johnson said:

We will study any judgments, of course, very closely, as we always do. We will respect the law. And we will leave the European Union on October 31. Clearly, that’s what the people of this country voted for. I think most people just want just to get Brexit done.

The court of sessions judgement on Brexit will be out at 12.45pm, the lawyer Jolyon Maugham says.

Right. Have been sitting here wondering whether I dare 'go see a man about a dog'. Court has rescued me from my dilemma by saying the decision will be published at 12.45.

This is what Boris Johnson said at Watford hospital when a reporter asked him if his Brexit plan was “dead in the water”. He replied:

Our proposal is very fair, very reasonable. What it does is respect the Good Friday agreement, the peace process in Northern Ireland. It makes sure there’s no hard border, no checks at all at the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. It also goes further in allowing Northern Ireland and Ireland in alignment, both for agrifoods, for cattle and so on, but also for industrial goods as well. That’s a big step forward, big advance, big compromise by the UK government.

What we are saying to our friends is, this is a very generous, fair and reasonable offer that we have made. What we would like to hear from you now is what your thoughts are. And if you have issues with any of the proposals that we’ve come up with, then let’s get into the detail and discuss them.

Well, I spoke to both Antti Rinne, the Finnish prime minster, and to Emmanuel Macron yesterday. And I think they can see that there is an argument now for pushing on and getting on with some substantive talks on the detail of what we are proposing ...

The issue is, what is the EU’s objection [to the UK plan]. We haven’t really heard the detail from them about what they think the problems are. It is time for use to get together and really thrash this thing out.

Boris Johnson has been visiting Watford general hospital this morning. Looking at the photographs from the visit, it seems that for the second time in a week he’s been engaging in mug politics - getting your chinaware to do your political messaging.

I got my coffee in the end. pic.twitter.com/F5cDVZHhHA

The lawyer Jolyon Maugham has a useful Twitter thread on what to expect from today’s court of session Brexit judgment. It starts here.

A short thread, in advance of the decision today, on where things are with the Scottish proceedings. THREAD

I’m just back from the Downing Street lobby briefing, and nothing was said by the prime minister’s spokesman to suggest that Boris Johnson thinks there is much chance of the UK reaching a Brexit agreement with the EU this week. Johnson is due to hold telephone calls today with the prime ministers of Sweden, Denmark and Poland, but the spokesman did not announce any plans for Johnson to hold face-to-face meetings with his EU counterparts and he would not deny a report saying a meeting with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has not taken place because Merkel’s office could not find a slot for him in the diary.

There was a stage when Johnson was claiming that the UK was making significant progress in its talks with the EU. But the spokesman was not using language like that this morning, although when pressed he said that the EU did view the publication of the UK plans last week as a “step forward”.

We are ready to talk with the EU at a pace to secure a deal so that we can move on and build a new partnership between the UK and the EU, but if this is to be possible the EU must match the compromises that the UK has made.

#NorthSeaNeighbours – Frank & honest discussion today with @SteveBarclay as good neighbours do. Important questions still remain on UK #Brexit proposals and more realism and clarity necessary this week. Full support for @MichelBarnier pic.twitter.com/7A0KUUmdb2

These are from ITV’s Robert Peston.

So believe it or not, the 21 Tory MPs expelled from the parliamentary Conservative party, plus Rudd who quit, today refused to support opposition MPs who wanted to put down an SO24 motion that would have allowed MPs to seize control of parliament’s business on any day between...

now and Brexit day on 31 October. Labour and SNP had ordered all their MPs to London to support the motion. But now it won’t be put on the order paper till next Tuesday, if at all. The point of the motion was to give MPs the power to pass whatever legislation they thought they...

need to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October. But the Tory rebels apparently now buy the Johnson and Cummings argument that MPs flexing their collective muscles to stop a no-deal Brexit is undermining their chances of getting a deal. But as I reported earlier, there is next to...

no chance of the EU accepting Johnson’s offer anyway (see https://t.co/3D5abBMm2p). So Cummings and Johnson will be chortling into their coffees as we speak. And business in the Commons today will be of magnificent unimportance.

On the BBC’s Westminster Hour last night Lee Rowley, a Tory Brexiter who voted against Theresa May’s deal three times, said he did not think leave voters would blame Boris Johnson if Brexit were delayed. He explained:

I think the British people have more or less clocked what’s going on here. And I was out in my constituency, North East Derbyshire - 60% leave seat, formerly Labour-held for 80 years – this weekend. I lost track of the number of people who said to me on the doorstep –we know what’s going on, Boris is trying to get a deal and he is also trying to get us out. And if he doesn’t achieve that, and Boris is clear that he is going to do that, but if he doesn’t, we know where the problem will be. Because it’s the same problem that’s been there’s been for the last two years. Parliament doesn’t want to leave.

One of the key questions in British politics at the moment is whether pro-leave voters will blame Boris Johnson if Brexit has to be extended, and line up behind Nigel Farage’s Brexit party at the general election, or whether they will give Johnson the benefit on the grounds that at least he tried.

As Mujtaba Rahman says in his Eurasia briefing (see 9.57am), No 10 used to think a Brexit delay would be disastrous for the Tories electorally, but now they have changed their mind. Rahman says:

The election could turn on this question: how damaging will an extension be for Boris? His strategy is to make enough gains in Labour-held leave areas in the North and Midlands to offset likely losses to the SNP in Scotland and the pro-Remain Lib Dems in the South. This gamble would be compounded by an extension, which would likely play into the hands of Nigel Farage’s Brexit party, who would cry betrayal. To win a majority, the Tories need to further squeeze the Brexit party’s vote.

Initially, Boris allies were nervous about the impact of an extension. But during last week’s Tory conference they became confident that the “Farage factor” would not scupper Johnson’s chances of victory. They were cheered by opinion poll and focus group findings that the PM would not be blamed for the latest delay to Brexit. As one aide said: “The public see him as Mr. Brexit and the only one who can deliver it. They know who is responsible [for delay] and we will keep reminding them of it.”

So far, confidence in Mr Johnson’s handling of Brexit — and indeed his party’s standing in the polls which, according to Opinium’s latest poll, is, at 38 per cent, higher than at any time since last February, before Mrs May failed to deliver Brexit — has not suffered in the wake of what are already diminishing expectations among voters that Brexit will be delivered at the end of the month.

According to YouGov, at the beginning of September, three in five (60 per cent) Leave voters thought it likely that Brexit would have happened by October 31, while only about one in four (27 per cent) thought it unlikely. Now only about a half of them (49 per cent) expect Mr Johnson to meet the deadline.

My money is on Johnson and Cons losing blame game fwiw. BXP voters are low attention and low trust, when Farage announces “he has failed, he has betrayed Brexit” on Nov 1st that’s who they will respond to. https://t.co/7nGG00QJaS

BXP does best among white voters with low formal educational qualifications. Such voters tend to express lower interest in politics, score lower on political knowledge etc. Less likely to be following things day to day. Therefore less likely to know detail of why Boris faile..d

I'm just not convinced Brexit Party voters will abandon Boris Johnson if extension happens. Why?

78% approve of his handling of Brexit
75% say MPs SHOULD vote for deal
74% approve of job as PM
64% say "surrender" acceptable language
59% "more positive" of BJ since conference

Were Johnson and his team to successfully recruit Brexit party voters [at the general election] then they would likely win sizeable majorities. If Johnson won back half of the Brexit party vote then he might win a comfortable majority, with 348 seats to Labour’s 201. If he goes further and wins back three-quarters of Farage’s Brexiteers then the number of Conservative seats increased at around 370 to Labour’s 185 - a commanding majority.

Might this actually happen? We do think that the Brexit party vote is softer than some think, for a couple of reasons. First, when these voters are asked who would make the best prime minister - Johnson or Corbyn- they break 84% to 1% for Johnson. Lord Ashcroft asked a slightly different question, whether they would want to see a Conservative government led by Johnson or a Labour government led by Corbyn. 94% opted for a Johnson government. A campaign that inevitably presents voters with this simple binary choice would likely see many Brexit party voters conclude “Johnson”.

Mujtaba Rahman, the Brexit specialist at the Eurasia consultancy who produces regular briefing notes based on what he’s been told by insiders in London and Brussels, has issued an update on the state of play this morning. He says he thinks the chances of the UK and the EU agreeing a deal this week are now “close to zero”, and that the chances of a no-deal Brexit happening on 31 October are also “extremely small”. We’re heading for an election, he assumes.

Here’s an extract.

UK ministers admit privately there is little prospect of agreement. As one put it: “If the consent mechanism [on regulation] were the only problem, then a deal would be doable. But if we say Northern Ireland must be in the UK customs territory and the EU says it must be in the [EU] customs union, the problems are insurmountable. That’s where we are.”

Downing Street’s official line remains that the UK will leave on 31 October with or without a deal. At the same time, it insists the government “will obey” the Benn Act approved by parliament, forcing Johnson to seek an extension to UK membership if a deal has not been approved by parliament by 19 October. Ministers refuse to say how these contradictory positions will be reconciled. Some admit privately they do not know.

This is from my colleague Severin Carrell.

Seems @DaleVince @JolyonMaugham @joannaccherry #BennAct decision won’t be published until noon, in writing. No #courtofsession hearing with Pentland today, says @JudgesScotland press office

The lawyer Jolyon Maugham says he does not know what time the Scottish court judgment will be issued. I had been told 10am, but that may have been duff information.

A decision of the Outer House of the Court of Session is expected today but we are not expecting a hearing. It will be issued to the parties and published in the normal way. We do not, as matters stand, know the time at which it will be issued.

Politicians spend a lot of time in interviews dodging questions, but mostly they are not very good at it. They could all learn by watching Jennifer Arcuri, the American businesswoman at the centre of the scandal over claims that Boris Johnson improperly helped her company with grants and trade mission access when he was mayor of London because they had a very close friendship. She has given an interview to Good Morning Britain this morning, and she managed to give a non-answer that made her look strong and assertive, not weak and evasive. This is what she said when Piers Morgan asked her if she had ever had an intimate relationship with Johnson. She said:

Because the press have made me this objectified ex-model pole dancer, I am really not going to answer that question ... I’m sorry, I am not going to be putting myself in a position for you to weaponise my answer. I’m being used as a pawn. This entire thing is a crazy charade.

‘It’s really categorically no-one’s business.’

Tech entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri refuses to answer any questions about the intimacy of her relationship with Boris Johnson over concerns her answer will be weaponised. pic.twitter.com/fg1fYcncqq

‘Boris never gave me favouritism.’

US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri says Boris Johnson never gave her preferential treatment and only knew her as an ‘extremely passionate entrepreneur of the London tech scene’. pic.twitter.com/Je4x1gWn2A

Related: Jennifer Arcuri refuses to rule out claims of affair with Boris Johnson

A decision is expected to be made on whether the prime minister can be forced by the courts to send a letter requesting an article 50 extension.

Documents submitted to the court of session on behalf of Boris Johnson were read out on Friday, in which he makes it clear he will not attempt to frustrate the so-called Benn Act.

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