October 17, 2019
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UK Supreme Court rules Johnson's pre-Brexit prorogation unlawful

 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) addressing MPs in the House of Commons in London,  25 September 2019. EFE/EPA/JESSICA TAYLOR / UK PARLIAMENT /

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) addressing MPs in the House of Commons in London,  25 September 2019. EFE/EPA/JESSICA TAYLOR / UK PARLIAMENT /

London (EFE-EPA).- British lawmakers are due to return to work after the United Kingdom's Supreme Court on Tuesday (24/9/2019) ruled that Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.

Reading a statement, President of the Supreme Court Lady Hale, said the prorogation impeded Parliament and its "effect on the fundamentals of our democracy was extreme".

"The court is bound to conclude therefore that 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."

Hale said the Prime Minister's advice to Queen Elizabeth II was "unlawful, void and of no effect".

The prorogation was therefore also "unlawful, void and of no effect".

She said that speakers of the House of Commons and the House of Lords must decide what to do next.

"Unless there is some Parliamentary rule of which we are unaware, they can take immediate steps to enable each House to meet as soon as possible," Hale said.

All of the decisions from the court were agreed unanimously by the 11 judges.

Speaking to Sky News in New York, where he is attending a United Nations General Assembly, Johnson said he respected but disagreed with the verdict.

"I have to say I strongly disagree with what the Justices have found, I don't think that its right, but we will go ahead and of course Parliament will come back."

He said he would carry on trying to deliver Brexit by 31 October.

John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, said MPs would reconvene on Wednesday at 11.30 am.

"I have instructed the House authorities to prepare not for the recall — the prorogation was unlawful and is void — to prepare for the resumption of the business of the House of Commons," he told reporters outside Westminster.

The Supreme Court was ruling on appeals from the High Court, which has jurisdiction over England and Wales, which had ruled the prorogation lawful, and Scotland's highest appeals court, which ruled it unlawful.

Gina Miller, a lawyer and campaigner who filed the original lawsuit at the High Court, said: "Today is not a win for any individual or cause, it's a win for parliamentary sovereignty.

"Crucially, today's ruling confirms that we are a nation governed by the rule of law."

Joanna Cherry QC, a member of the Scottish National Party who filed the lawsuit in Scotland's courts, said she was "delighted" with the ruling.

Johnson had been accused of using the prorogation, which was to end on 14 October with a Queen's Speech setting out the government's agenda for the year, to stifle Brexit debate in the House of Commons, the UK's lower legislative chamber.

The Conservative government, which now functions as a minority, maintained that the suspension was a normal feature of parliamentary protocol.

Lawmakers banded together to submit a bill that would force Johnson to remove the option of a no-deal Brexit off the table

As things stand, the UK is on track to leave the European Union on 31 October.

The ruling prompted reactions from Johnson's political adversaries.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the left-leaning Labour Party, the official opposition, said Johnson had demonstrated a "contempt of democracy and an abuse of power" and called on him to resign.

"I invite Boris Johnson in the historic words to consider his position and become the shortest-serving prime minister there has ever been," he told a rapturous crowd at the Labour Party conference in Brighton.

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who leads the pro-independence and ardently anti-Brexit SNP, also called on the PM to stand down.

Johnson's controversial decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks just ahead of Brexit brought opposition parties together and sent tremors in his camp.

Lawmakers banded together to submit a bill that would force Johnson to remove the option of a no-deal Brexit off the table, something he had held onto as leverage in negotiations with Brussels.

It passed through the Commons and the Lords just before the prorogation.

Some 21 Tory MPs who voted against the government were sacked by the PM.

It meant that not only had he lost control of parliamentary procedure but also his slim working majority, which had relied on the likeminded Northern Irish party, the DUP.

The opposition bill stipulates that Johnson must request a Brexit extension from the EU should he fail to agree on a deal during the European Council meeting on 17-18 October.

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