Sunday, 22 September, 2019

UK court rules Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament unlawful

Lorries queue to enter the Port of Dover Lorries queue to enter the Port of Dover
Patty Aguilar | 12 September, 2019, 01:35

The move by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to prorogue the UK Parliament was declared "unlawful" on Wednesday by Scotland's highest court of appeal.

"We are calling for parliament to be recalled immediately", said Scottish National Party lawmaker Joanna Cherry, who led the legal challenge, after Scotland's Court of Session ruled the prorogation should be annulled. "If we stand against them, they can not win a majority", he said.

Cherry said she wasn't surprised by the unanimous decision, noting that during last week's hearings, she detected "a whiff of bad faith on behalf of Boris Johnson and the British government".

A lawyer involved in the Scottish case against the government, Jolyon Maugham, tweeted that it would be considered in Britain's Supreme Court starting on Tuesday.

Plaid Cymru's Hywel Williams said the United Kingdom was "hurtling headlong" into a crisis, which MPs must be sitting in the House of Commons to stop.

"The UK government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda", a government spokesman said in response to Wednesday's ruling. The current litigation relating to the legality of the advice to the sovereign to prorogue Parliament is evidence of the wisdom of Powell's dictum.

There has also been criticism after the impartiality of the three Scottish judges was called into question by a source at 10 Downing Street.

But the Court of Session judges said they were unanimous in their belief that Mr Johnson was motivated by the "improper objective of stymieing Parliament", and that he had therefore effectively misled the Queen in advising her to suspend Parliament.

Michael Gove
Michael Gove

The ruling added that all three First Division judges decided that the PM's advice to the British monarch was motivated by the improper objective of stymying Parliament and that it, and what has followed from it, is unlawful.

If Boris Johnson is found to have deceived the Queen he should quit, a former Tory MP has said.

The court could not be reached for immediate comment.

Opposition MPs and some Conservatives argued that the real objective of the suspension was to block any scrutiny of Mr. Johnson's Brexit plan which MPs fear could lead to a no-deal departure and have devastating consequences for the economy. The implications of this decision made by the Scottish courts should not be underestimated.

The ruling comes a day after the prorogation took place in the early hours of Tuesday, with Parliament now suspended for five weeks.

Away from the political arena, Catherine Haddon, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government, said that while the ruling found that Johnson's advice to the Queen on prorogation was unlawful, it does not now change the prorogation itself.

On her social media site, Haddon said: "Regardless of the final outcome, it is a pretty uncomfortable position for the Palace".

Parliament has already passed a law requiring the Prime Minister to seek an extension of the October 31 deadline if he hasn't reached a deal by October 19.

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