The U.K. Supreme Court has ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament was unlawful in a historic judgement Tuesday.
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The court ruled that Johnson’s advice to the Queen requesting that prorogation, meaning the suspension of Parliament in the lead up to the October 31 Brexit deadline, was “unlawful.”
The Supreme Court Judge Lady Brenda Hale announced the judgement at the Supreme Court in London Tuesday morning, saying the prorogration had the effect of frustrating the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justifications. She declared the prorogation was now “void and of no effect,” and that Johnson’s advice to the Queen was “unlawful.”
The decision was unanimously agreed upon by 11 Supreme Court judges.
“It is impossible for us to conclude, on the evidence which has been put before us, that there was any reason – let alone a good reason – to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament for five weeks,” the judgement says. “We cannot speculate, in the absence of further evidence, upon what such reasons might have been. It follows that the decision was unlawful.”
“I don’t think that it’s right, but we will go ahead and of course Parliament will come back,” he told the BBC in New York, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly. “”We must get on and deliver Brexit on October 31. They thought the prorogation that we chose was not something they could approve of. The main thing is that we will get on and deliver Brexit on October 31st … but Parliament will come back and we will respect that.”
The bitterly fought and historically unprecedented court case which has huge implications for the future of Brexit means that lawmakers will return to Parliament tomorrow to scrutinize Johnson’s plans for Brexit.
Queen Elizabeth approved a request by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to suspend Parliament on August 28. This was a move that observers said was designed to thwart opposition lawmakers from blocking Brexit, prompting protests in cities across the United Kingdom.
Two court cases were then brought to challenge the suspension of Parliament which, after various appeals, reached the highest court in the land last week. Now the court has ruled this was illegal. The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow who presides over debates in Parliament said lawmakers would be returning to work as soon as possible, which will most likely be as early as tomorrow morning.
Lawmakers and lawyers who campaigned against the move to suspend Parliament immediately called for Johnson’s resignation in the aftermath of the ruling.
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, reacted to the news by saying Johnson had displayed a “contempt for democracy and abuse of power.”
Jo Swinson, the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party which advocates remaining in the EU, said that Johnson “isn’t fit to be prime minister.”
This confirms what we already knew – Boris Johnson isn’t fit to be prime minister. He’s misled Queen and country, and unlawfully silenced the people’s representatives. I’m on my way to resume my duties in the Commons and stop Brexit altogether. https://t.co/CklIVPUGBX
— Jo Swinson (@joswinson) September 24, 2019
Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party, described the ruling as “of truly historic proportions.”
And the prime minister is not just facing criticism from those who advocate remaining in the EU. Leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage called for Johnson’s chief adviser to resign, saying that the decision to prorogue Parliament was the “worst political decision ever.”
The calling of a Queen’s Speech and prorogation is the worst political decision ever. Dominic Cummings must go.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 24, 2019
Johnson, who helped lead the push to exit the EU in a national referendum three years ago and took over from Theresa May in July has previously said he will accept the court’s ruling.
But the historic judgement is the latest in a series of crushing defeats for Johnson’s government. Last month Parliament voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit on October 31 by passing a law which will force the prime minister to ask EU leaders for an extension to the Brexit deadline if he is unable to agree a deal.
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Yet despite the prime minister saying he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit, despite losing two calls for a general election, and despite losing a vote to rule out a no deal Brexit — all in an incredibly short and turbulent time in office — the country’s future now looks more uncertain than ever.
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