Resign, PM Boris told after top court spikes prorogation
Two months into the post as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson on Tuesday faced growing demands to resign in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling that his decision to prorogue parliament in the run-up to Brexit on October 31 is ‘unlawful’.
The ruling is a major benchmark in a parliamentary democracy, since it amounts to courts entering and adjudicating on an issue in the realm of politics: whether the executive’s advice to the head of state to prorogue parliament is lawful or not.
The court said in the much-awaited ruling: “This court has … concluded that the prime minister’s advice to Her Majesty (to suspend parliament) was unlawful, void and of no effect. This means that the order in council to which it led was also unlawful, void and of no effect should be quashed”.
Critics of Johnson’s move to prorogue parliament approached courts in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England, alleging that it was done to prevent MPs from proving an obstacle to his Brexit plans. The Scottish court declared it unlawful, while the English court said it was a matter of politics.
Delighted at the apex court’s ruling, House of Commons speaker John Bercow called for the reopening of parliament on Wednesday, while Johnson, on a visit to New York, said he disagreed with it and indicated that he could again suspend parliament.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn led demands that Johnson resign, but Downing Street made it known that he has no intention of doing so. Currently, parliament is due to re-open on October 14, but is likely to resume sittings sooner after the court judgement.
Johnson said: “Obviously this is a verdict that we will respect and we respect the judicial process. I have to say that I strongly disagree with what the justices have found. I don’t think that it’s right but we will go ahead and of course parliament will come back.”
“It is perfectly usual to have a Queen’s speech (that opens session). That is what we want to do, but more importantly let’s be in no doubt there are a lot of people who want to frustrate Brexit. There are a lot of people who want to stop this country coming out of the EU.”
Addressing Labour’s annual conference in Brighton, an upbeat Corbyn called for Johnson’s resignation, demanding a mid-term election be held soon to resolve the Brexit imbroglio: “The prime minister acted illegally when he tried to shut down opposition to his reckless and disastrous plan to crash out of the European Union without a deal”.
“But he has failed. He will never shut down our democracy or silence the voices of the people. The democracy that Boris Johnson describes as a ‘rigmarole’ will not be stifled and the people will have their say.
“Tomorrow, parliament will return. The government will be held to account for what it has done. Boris Johnson has been found to have misled the country. This unelected prime minister should now resign”, he said to much applause.
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