British Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted unlawfully when he suspended the United Kingdom’s Parliament for five weeks, the country’s highest court has ruled on Tuesday (24 September). The ruling that the suspension was “unlawful, void and of no effect” is major blow to Johnson who has already suffered a series of defeats when he lost his parliamentary majority and ability to govern through the legislature.
The UK prime minister claimed at that time that a five-week suspension – also known as “prorogation” – was necessary in order to present a new domestic legislative agenda, which is a ceremonial event that culminates in a speech made by the queen outlining the government’s plans. But the UK’s Supreme Court concluded unanimously on Tuesday that, in reality, Johnson’s decision to “prorogate” the Parliament was aimed at preventing MPs from scrutinizing the government ahead of the Brexit deadline. “This was not a normal prorogation in the run-up to a Queen’s Speech,” said Lady Brenda Hale, president of the Supreme Court. Although “the normal period necessary to prepare for the Queen’s speech is four to six days,” she explained, in reality “it prevented Parliament from carrying out its constitutional role for five out of the possible eight weeks between the end of the summer recess and exit day on 31st October…”
Johnson said he “strongly disagrees” with the ruling, but that Parliament “will come back”, though he also hinted that he may seek another suspension. In the meantime, one of the driving figures behind the case, Jolyon Maugham, founder and director of the Good Law Project, hailed the judgment outside the court because “the Supreme Court has protected the foundational principle of any democracy – the right of MPs to do the job for which they were elected.” “This victory is yours!” he said to paid tribute to the 8,000 people who had contributed to a crowdfunding campaign for the legal case. Pressure on Boris Johnson to resign intensified immediately the Supreme Court’s ruling was announced. Addressing delegates at Labor Party’s annual conference, leader Jeremy Corbyn stressed that Johnson should become the shortest-ever serving UK prime minister and that his party was ready to form a government – amidst laud chanting “Johnson out!”