Supreme Court rules Commons suspension unlawful
Protestors outside the Supreme Court
Boris Johnson is facing calls to resign after the Supreme Court today ruled unanimously that he illegally suspended Parliament to stop debate on Brexit.
Lady Hale said the Prime Minister’s decision to shut down the Commons for five weeks and advice to the Queen was “unlawful, void and of no effect”.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson, who has been meeting President Trump in New York, will not be resigning. Answering questions at lunchtime today, he said: “I strongly disagree with what the justices have found. I do not think it is right.
“There is a good case for getting on with a Queen’s Speech anyway. But the most important thing is that we get on and deliver Brexit on October 31. The claimants in this case are clearly determined to frustrate that and to stop that.
“I think it would be very unfortunate if parliament made that objective which the people want delivered more difficult.”
Mr Johnson is expected to fly back to the UK tonight in order to be in parliament tomorrow.
Commons Speaker John Bercow said MPs will “resume” their duties in the Commons at 11.30am, though Prime Minister’s Questions will not take place.
After the verdict the pound immediately rose about 0.5% against the euro to €1.13. Analysts saw the ruling as positive for avoiding future unpredictable decision-making by Downing Street.
Eleven of the UK’s most senior judges were asked to have the final say on two contradictory court cases.
The High Court in London threw out a case brought by Remain campaigner Gina Miller and former prime minister Sir John Major after three judges decided Mr Johnson’s decision was “political” and not a matter for them.
But the Court of Session in Edinburgh sided with a SNP-led case that the PM’s decision was illegal and purely for political gain so should be reversed.
If Boris Johnson had a shred of integrity he would jump before he is pushed– Joanna Cherry
Ministers said the five-week suspension – or prorogation until 14 October – was not a court matter, but critics argue the PM wants to limit scrutiny of his Brexit policy.
The government has said it will “abide by the ruling”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “I invite Boris Johnson…to consider his position and… become the shortest-serving prime minister there has ever been.
“So, obey the law, take no-deal off the table and have an election to elect a government that respects democracy, that respects the rule of law and brings power back to the people, not usurps it in the way that Boris Johnson has done.”
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson, said: “The court have found what we all knew all along, Boris Johnson has again proven he is not fit to be Prime Minister.
“This shutdown was an unlawful act designed to stop Parliament doing its job and holding the Government to account. Given this verdict, Parliament should be sitting so that we can continue to question the Conservative Government on their disastrous Brexit plans.
Joanna Cherry, SNP Justice and Home Affairs spokesman, who also a QC and was the lead petitioner in the Scottish case, said she was delighted the UK Supreme Court had upheld the ruling of Scotland’s supreme court – and said Parliament must get back to work so the Tory government can be held to account over its extreme Brexit plans.
She said Mr Johnson’s behaviour had been a disgrace and he should resign – adding “if he had a shred of integrity he would jump before he is pushed”.
Commenting, she said: “I am delighted the UK Supreme Court has followed Scotland’s supreme court and ruled that Boris Johnson’s undemocratic decision to shut down Parliament ahead of Brexit was unlawful and unconstitutional.
“Parliament must resume without delay, so we can hold the Tory government to account on its Brexit plans, which threaten to plunge the UK into recession, destroy 100,000 Scottish jobs, and inflict lasting harm on living standards, public services and the economy.
The clock is rewound to 27 August and Parliament is not suspended. It is as if the suspension never occurred.– Elaine Motion, solicitor
“This whole sorry mess has underlined just how broken Westminster is. Scotland deserves the choice of a better future than the one being imposed upon it. It’s clearer than ever, that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.”
Another petitioner, Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray, said: “This is a historic result. The courts have upheld British democracy and delivered an astonishing rebuke to Boris Johnson for his disgraceful behaviour.
“The Prime Minister lied and politicised the Queen. He now has no option but to resign.”
Elaine Motion, executive chairman of Balfour+Manson, which represents Ms Cherry and all other petitioners in the case initially brought at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, said: “The unanimous decision of the UK Supreme Court today, to cut down the prorogation, essentially reconfirms the position taken by the Court of Session Inner House.
“That means that the clock is rewound to 27 August and Parliament is not suspended. It is as if the suspension never occurred.
“It is a huge vindication for the Parliamentarians who led the way with the challenge in Scotland and an even more significant reinforcement of the critical importance of the Rule of Law and the Sovereignty of Parliament. Hopefully Parliament can now get back to its essential work.”