Hearing on suspension
Supreme Court to rule on whether Johnson misled the Queen
Commons business has been suspended
Britain’s top court will today begin its judgement on whether Boris Johnson misled the Queen in his request to suspend parliament.
The Prime Minister prorogued, or suspended, parliament for five weeks from last week until 14 October, claiming he needed the time to allow for a new legislative agenda to be prepared.
Critics have argued that the real purpose is to prevent scrutiny of his Brexit plan, in particular his threat to leave the EU on 31 October whether or there is a deal in place.
Scotland’s highest court – the Court of Session – last week ruled it was an attempt to “stymie parliament” and overturned an earlier judgement that the matter was political and not one for judicial interference. Its ruling contradicted the High Court in England which said the shutdown was not illegal even if it was motivated by the desire for “political advantage”.
Campaigners against prorogation are also pursuing legal action through Northern Ireland’s courts.
Eleven judges at the Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in the UK, will give a final ruling on Mr Johnson’s advice to the Queen.
Lady Hale, President of the Supreme Court, will preside over the hearing. The government will be represented by Sir James Eadie, the First Treasury Counsel, and Lord Keen, the Advocate General for Scotland.
The cross-party group which lodged the action hope the verdict goes their way in order to force Mr Johnson to recall parliament. If Mr Johnson is judged to have misled the monarch, they will call for him to resign.
He has argued that the current session of parliament has already been longer than any since the English Civil war and that there will be ample time to discuss Brexit after an EU summit on 17 and 18 October.
The Supreme Court hearings will run until Thursday, with the verdict not expected until Friday at the earliest.
Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, spoke to the press alone after Boris Johnson did not appear at a planned press conference following their Brexit talks.
A group of protesters threatened to disrupt Mr Johnson’s remarks.
Mr Bettel said Mr Johnson’s talk of progress in Brexit discussions was unfounded despite the British PM’s claim that a deal was beginning to emerge. Mr Bettel urged Mr Johnson to “stop speaking and act” and to stop trying to pass the blame to the EU for the consequences of a decision taken by the British people in the 2016 Brexit referendum.
“Your people, our people count on you. But the clock is ticking – use your time wisely,” he said.
Xavier Bettel gestures to the empty lectern
Mr Johnson joined European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for lunch which was heckled from start of his visit with dozens of Britons – many of them living in Luxembourg – booing, chanting and holding banners outside the restaurant.
He insisted afterwards that progress was being made. “Yes, there is a good chance of a deal, yes I can see the shape of it, everybody can see roughly what could be done,” he said.
However, the European Commission said London had still not proposed an alternative to the Irish backstop.