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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

Blow to Boris Johnson as decision to suspend parliament declared unlawful

Jo Maugham, a lawyer involved in the case, said an appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in the United Kingdom, would begin on Tuesday.

world Updated: Sep 11, 2019 21:41 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson(AP)

The highest civil court in Scotland on Wednesday declared parliament’s prorogation by the Boris Johnson government amidst Brexit rows as unlawful, ruling that the move was motivated by the “improper purpose of stymying Parliament”, setting off another row in Westminster.

The controversial prorogation until October 14 took effect in the early hours of Tuesday following criticism by House of Commons speaker John Bercow, among others. The Supreme Court is due to hear a another challenge to the prorogation next Tuesday.

Labour and other opposition parties that saw the prorogation as the Johnson government’s bid to avoid scrutiny of its approach to Brexit, called the ruling ‘historic’ and demanded that parliament be recalled in view of the ruling, but Downing Street resisted it.

A UK government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed by today’s decision, and will appeal to the UK Supreme Court. The UK Government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing Parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this.”

A panel of three judges at the Court of Session ruled in favour of a cross-party group of politicians who challenged the prime minister’s move, stating that the government advice mentioned while seeking the prorogation order is unlawful.

However, the ruling will not lead to the immediate reopening of parliament, despite demands from Labour, Scottish Nationalist Party and others, because it did not order the cancellation of the prorogation.

Judge Carloway said: “We are of the opinion that the advice given by the government to her majesty the Queen to prorogue parliament was unlawful and that the prorogation itself was unlawful”.

“The Court will accordingly make an Order declaring that the Prime Minister’s advice to HM the Queen and the prorogation which followed thereon was unlawful and is thus null and of no effect.”

Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said: “For the court to make a declaration like that on an issue like this is a huge thing for us. It vindicates everything we did last week. I think that what I need to do, and what others need to do, is to get back to parliament and get Boris Johnson back in parliament so we can hold him properly to account”.

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the ruling was of “enormous constitutional significance”, demanding that parliament be recalled immediately to allow it to do the “real and substantive work of scrutiny”.

She added: “The prime minister’s behaviour has been outrageous and reckless, and has shown a complete disregard for constitutional rules and norms.”

First Published: Sep 11, 2019 15:04 IST

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