The Supreme Court has ruled that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful.
The suspension or prorogation of Parliament was due to take place for five weeks, up to 14 October. However, the Supreme Court’s president Lady Hale said: “the effect on the fundamentals of democracy was extreme”.
The eleven justices unanimously ruled that the Prime Minister’s advice to HM the Queen to suspend Parliament was unlawful.
Lady Hale said;
“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.”
The court has also found that the prorogation was “void and of no effect” – this means Parliament has not been suspended.
John Bercow, the soon outgoing Speaker of the House of Commons said the House must “convene without delay”. It has been confirmed that the House of Commons will sit from 11.30 am on Wednesday. PMQs will be cancelled tomorrow, however, there will be scope for urgent questions, statements and emergency debates, according to Mr Bercow.
Mr Johnson and the government had claimed that the prorogation was in order to allow a period before a new Queen’s Speech where a new legislative agenda could be set out. However, it was widely believed by many that the prorogation was in fact designed to stop MPs from scrutinising the government at a critical time before the Brexit deadline on October 31.
Speaking at the Labour Party conference following the ruling, Jeremy Corbyn said
“The Prime Minister has acted wrongly in shutting down Parliament. It demonstrates a contempt for democracy and an abuse of power by him.”
The Leader of the Opposition added, “I invite Boris Johnson in the historic words to consider his position”. Mr Corbyn has moved his conference speech to Tuesday afternoon, effectively cutting short the Labour Party conference.
Boris Johnson, who is currently in New York, spoke to the media following the ruling. Parts of this statement are as follows;
“I strongly disagree with this decision of the Supreme Court. I have the upmost respect for our judiciary, I don’t think this was the right decision I think that the prorogation has been used for centuries without this kind of challenge”“As the law stands we leave on October 31 and I am very hopeful that we will get a deal and I think what the people of the country want is to see parliamentarians coming together working in the national interest to get this thing done and that is what we are going to do.”
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