14 | NOV | 2019
UK Supreme Court rules Boris Johnson's Parliament suspension unlawful
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures - Photo: Phil Noble/REUTERS

UK Supreme Court rules Boris Johnson's Parliament suspension unlawful

24/09/2019
15:58
Reuters
Estelle Shirbon & Michael Holden
-A +A
Opposition leaders called on Johnson to resign immediately for misleading Queen Elizabeth, who had formally suspended parliament on his advice

The UK Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Boris Johnson’s decision to shut down parliament in the run-up to Brexit was unlawful, but a defiant prime minister said he disagreed and vowed that Britain would leave the European Union by October 31, come what may.

The stinging judgment by all 11 of the court’s sitting justices undermines Johnson’s already fragile grip on power and gives legislators more scope to try to stop him taking Britain out of the bloc next month, with or without a divorce deal.

Responding in New York to the decision, which said that the suspension was null and void, Johnson said he would respect the ruling but “strongly disagreed” with it, making clear the setback would make no difference to his Brexit agenda.

The Supreme Court ruling, the most important constitutional legal verdict in decades, was a blistering rebuke of Johnson’s actions. Opposition leaders called on Johnson to resign immediately for misleading Queen Elizabeth, who had formally suspended parliament on his advice.

“The decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification,” Supreme Court President Brenda Hale said.

The ruling said Johnson had not given any reason—“let alone a good reason”—for suspending the legislature for five weeks, an act which had had an “extreme” effect on the fundamentals of British democracy.

“The prime minister’s advice to Her Majesty was unlawful, void and of no effect,” said Hale, adding that parliament was therefore not suspended and it was up to the speakers of its two chambers to decide what to do next.

The speaker of the House of Commons, the lower and much more powerful chamber, said it would reconvene at 11:30 a.m. (1030 GMT) on Wednesday.

Johnson was unrepentant after the landmark ruling, saying while he respected the judges, he disagreed profoundly with them. He said that as the law stood, Britain would still leave the European Union on October 31.
 

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Johnson, who has no parliamentary majority and suffered repeated defeats there before the suspension, had argued the shutdown was normal while a new legislative agenda, known as the Queen’s Speech, was prepared.

Critics said he had suspended parliament in order to prevent further reverses. A rebel alliance of opposition lawmakers and some from his own Conservative Party had forced through a law requiring Johnson to ask the European Union to delay Brexit by three months if no deal was agreed by October 19.

More than three years after the United Kingdom voted by 52%-48% in a referendum to leave the European Union, the country remains deeply divided and the Brexit process has become mired in confusion, with options ranging from a turbulent no-deal exit to abandoning the entire endeavor.
 

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