The Supreme Court will today will hear appeals from two separate challenges brought in England and Scotland over whether Boris Johnson broke the law by suspending parliament ahead of the Brexit October 31 deadline. Mr Johnson insists his five-week suspension is to allow his Government to set out a new legislative agenda in a Queen’s Speech when MPs return to Parliament on October 14.
But furious Remainers brought legal challenges against the Prime Minister’s decision, saying the prorogation was designed to make way for a no deal Brexit.
The Supreme Court, which will sit as a panel of 11 justices for only the second time in its 10-year history, must now reconcile contradictory judgments issued by the English and Scottish courts.
It comes after the High Court in London rejected the case brought by pro-EU activist Gina Miller – who previously brought a successful legal challenge against the Government over the triggering of the Article 50 process to start the Brexit countdown – finding that the length of the prorogation was “purely political” and not one for judicial interference.
But, on the same day, Scotland’s highest court ruled that the suspension was unlawful and was an “egregious” attempt to stymie parliament.
Brexit news: The Supreme Court case has started today
Brexit news: Gina Miller arrives at the Supreme Court this morning
The Supreme Court will now decide which set of judges was right, with the verdict having wide-ranging implications to the future of Mr Johnson’s political career.
Express.co.uk is asking you do you think should have the final say on the prorogation of parliament?
Mr Johnson advised the Queen on August 28 to prorogue Parliament for five weeks from the week of September 9.
His move prompted anger from opposition MPs who accused the prime minister of misleading the Queen and determined to stop them holding him to account on Brexit.
Brexit news: Boris Johnson asked the Queen to suspend parliament
The suspension of parliament started a week ago after the Queen accepted Mr Johnson’s request to suspend parliament until October 14, when there will be a Queen’s Speech.
The Supreme Court judges will now hear submissions from the parties and interveners from Tuesday to Thursday, but it is not clear when they will give a ruling.
Supporters of the legal challenges, a mixture of anti-Brexit campaigners and opposition lawmakers, want parliament to be immediately recalled if the court backs them.
Angry protesters, holding signs saying “Defend democracy”, “Reopen Parliament” and “They misled the Queen”, have gathered outside the Supreme Court as the first hearing takes place.
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Brexit news: The Supreme Court is considering two appeals
Brexit news: The UK’s highest court is deciding whether Boris Johnson acted unlawfully
It comes after Inner House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled the prorogation of parliament was unlawful while London’s High Court said it was “not a matter for the courts”.
Giving reasons for their ruling on September 11, three of the most senior judges in England and Wales said: “We concluded that the decision of the Prime Minister was not justiciable (capable of challenge). It is not a matter for the courts.”
But Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, said: “The circumstances demonstrate that the true reason for the prorogation is to reduce the time available for parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit at a time when such scrutiny would appear to be a matter of considerable importance, given the issues at stake.”
Ministers have said they will abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Brexit news: Britain is due to leave the EU on October 31
Mr Johnson is also under pressure to resign if the judges decide that he misled the monarch,
But the prime minister said the current session of parliament was longer than any since the English Civil war in the 17th century, adding that MPs would have plenty of time to again discuss Brexit after an EU summit on October 17-18.
The government has also accused anti-Brexit activists of using the courts to try to frustrate Britain’s departure from the bloc which was backed by Britons in a 2016 referendum.
When asked on Friday if he had misled the Queen, Mr Johnson said “Absolutely not,” adding: “Indeed, as I say, the High Court in England plainly agrees with us, but the Supreme Court will have to decide.”
Brexit news: Protestors gather outside the Supreme Court
In a television interview broadcast on Tuesday, Mr Johnson said he had “the greatest respect for the judiciary” but declined to say whether he would recall parliament if the ruling goes against the government.
He said: “I think the best thing I could do is wait and see what the judges say.”
But if the Government’s move is found to be lawful, the prorogation will continue as planned, in what will be seen as a major boost for Number 10.
The Supreme Court ruled against the government in a similar constitutional case in 2017 when it said ministers could not begin the formal two-year exit process without the approval of parliament.
That case was led by Mrs Miller, who is one of those taking on the government in the current legal battle along with former Tory Prime Minister John Major.
Published at Tue, 17 Sep 2019 10:19:00 +0000