Looming Brexit: Johnson’s Suspension of UK Parliament Ruled as ‘Unlawful’

Written by | Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been dealt another blow when Scotland’s highest civil court has ruled (11 September) that his government’s suspension of the UK Parliament was unlawful. A panel of three judges at the Court of Session found in favor of a cross-party group of politicians who were challenging Johnson’s controversial move. The judges blame the prime minister for attempting to prevent Parliament to hold the government to account ahead of Brexit.
Johnson’s government has appealed against the ruling and the appeal will be heard by the Supreme Court in London next week. The Court of Session decision overturns last week’s ruling from the court that concluded that Mr. Johnson had not broken the law. In the center of the most serious political crisis the UK has seen in decades, if not centuries, is the current five-week suspension of British Parliament that started on Tuesday (10 September). Meanwhile, opposition parties have called for Parliament to be immediately recalled in the wake of the court judgment, but Downing Street said this would not happen ahead of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the case.
At the appeal hearing last Friday, Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the parliamentarians, claimed in his closing arguments that the suspension of Parliament was unlawful because “a decision to prorogue shuts down parliament. … It is an attack on the balance of the constitution and therefore it is unlawful.” However, David Johnston QC, representing Johnson’s government, had argued it was not for the courts to get involved in what was a political decision. After appealing to the prime minister to promptly recall the Parliament, the SNP’s leader in Westminster Ian Blackford said that “every day Parliament remains suspended, Boris Johnson and the UK government are shutting down democracy.”

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