UK government’s legal officer for Scotland resigns

Boris Johnson's legal officer for Scotland Richard Keen | Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

UK government’s legal officer for Scotland resigns

Richard Keen said he found it ‘increasingly difficult’ to reconcile his obligations with the government’s policy intentions.


9/16/20, 7:04 PM CET

Updated 9/16/20, 7:23 PM CET

LONDON — Boris Johnson’s legal officer for Scotland Richard Keen has resigned.

Keen was reportedly concerned over the government’s insistence that it would break international law by passing legislation that would give it power to over-ride parts of the U.K.’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU.

On Tuesday, Keen insisted that when Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said last week that the U.K.’s plan would “break international law in a very specific and limited way” he had “answered the wrong question” and claimed that in his view the planned bill was not a breach of international law.

But earlier on Wednesday, Lewis contradicted Keen’s account, saying that he had given a “very straight answer” that was “absolutely in line” with legal advice.

Keen offered his resignation earlier today, a senior government figure said, and several hours before Downing Street confirmed his departure.

The BBC reported that in his resignation letter, Keen said: “Over the past week I have found it increasingly difficult to reconcile what I consider to be my obligations as a law officer with your policy intentions with respect to the U.K. Internal Market Bill.”

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “Lord Keen has resigned as advocate general for Scotland.

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