Boris Johnson names Keith Stewart QC Scotland's new Advocate General after Lord Keen quit over Brexit Bill

Boris Johnson has hired Scotland's new Advocate General after Lord Keen walked out over the Internal Market Bill.

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 12:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th October 2020, 3:04 pm
Lord Keen QC quit in September of this year
Lord Keen QC quit in September of this year

The Prime Minister today announced Keith Stewart QC has landed the role, one month on from his predecessor quitting.

A former prosecutor nicknamed “Boff” at school, Mr Stewart will now replace Lord Keen of Elie in the House of Lords, and become a life peer.

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Lord Keen sparked a crisis for the UK Government last month after quitting in protest over the controversial UK Internal Market Bill.

Tory ministers had openly admitted the legislation would break international law and enraged Brussels by enabling them to overwrite parts of the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

Lord Keen had originally defended the Bill, telling the House of Lords it did not “constitute a breach of international law or the rule of law”.

He was contradicted, however, by Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis, who told MPs the Bill would indeed break international law “in a limited and specific way”.

After an extended discussion with Downing Street, Lord Keen finally resigned on 16 September.

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Lord Keen resigns over Internal Markets Bill

In his resignation note, Lord 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 Internal Markets Bill.

"I have endeavoured to identify a respectable argument for the provisions at clauses 42 to 45 of the Bill, but it is now clear that this will not meet your policy intentions.

"In these circumstances I consider that it is my duty to tender my resignation from your government.

“Your Government faces challenges on a number of fronts and I fear that the Bill in its present form will not make these any easier.

“I wish you well in dealing with these issues.”

Lord Keen represented the UK Government at the Supreme Court in Edinburgh during the high profile legal challenge to Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament in 2019.

Made a life peer in June 2015, he was appointed as Advocate General for Scotland in May 2015, at which time he stepped down as chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party.

The long month to replace him comes amid rumours several other legal professionals turned down the job.

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