Court says suspension of UK parliament is unlawful

Scotland’s highest court of appeal ruled on Wednesday that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend the UK parliament this week for five weeks was unlawful and should be annulled.

The UK parliament was “prorogued” or suspended on Monday until October 14 in a move that opponents argued was designed to stymy their attempts to scrutinize his plans for leaving the European Union and allow him to push through a no-deal Brexit on October 31. 

“You cannot break the law with impunity, Boris Johnson,” said Joanna Cherry QC, the Scottish National Party MP who led the challenge.

“We are calling for parliament to be recalled immediately,” she told Sky News after the unanimous verdict by three judges at Scotland’s Court of Session. 

Johnson’s office said the UK government would appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in the United Kingdom.

It was not immediately clear what effect the ruling would have. 

“This was an egregious case of a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behavior of public authorities,” concluded one judge, Philip Brodie, according to a summary of the court verdict. 

Judge James Drummond Young had determined that “the only inference that could be drawn was that the UK government and the Prime Minister wished to restrict Parliament,” the summary said. 

“The Court will accordingly make an Order declaring that the Prime Minister’s advice to HM (Her Majesty) the Queen and the prorogation which followed thereon was unlawful and is thus null and of no effect.” 

Some parliamentarians who were thrown out of Johnson’s Conservative Party last week for rebelling over Brexit, said parliament should be recalled without delay. 

One of the former Conservatives, Dominic Grieve, said if Johnson had misled the queen over the reasons for prorogation, he should resign. 

“If that were to be the case that this had happened, Boris Johnson would find himself in an untenable position in parliament,” Grieve told BBC TV. 

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the ruling. 

“Any decision to accelerate the meeting of Parliament during prorogation is a matter for the government,” a spokeswoman for the Speaker of the House of Commons told the BBC.

A lower Scottish court had originally rejected the challenge and last Friday, London’s High Court also dismissed a similar challenge by campaigners. An appeal in that case is due to be heard on Sept. 17 at the Supreme Court

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.