Suspending Parliament was unlawful, court rules

Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Mr Johnson suspended – or prorogued – Parliament for five weeks earlier this month, but judges said it was wrong to stop Members of Parliament (MPs) carrying out duties in the run-up to Brexit on October 31.

Supreme Court president Lady Hale said “the effect on the fundamentals of democracy was extreme.”

The Prime Minister (PM) said he “profoundly disagreed” with the ruling but would “respect” it.

A raft of MPs have now called for the prime minister to resign, and some say they will attempt to force him out if he does not go of his accord.

Mr Johnson insisted he wanted to outline his government’s policies in a Queen’s Speech on October 14, and to do that, Parliament must be prorogued and a new session started.

But critics said he was trying to stop MPs scrutinising his Brexit plans and the suspension was far longer than necessary.

The court ruling does not prevent him from proroguing again in order to hold one, as long as it does not stop Parliament carrying out its duties “without reasonable justification”.

A No 10 source said the Supreme Court had “made a serious mistake in extending its reach to these political matters”, and had “made it clear that its reasons [were] connected to the Parliamentary disputes over, and timetable for Brexit”.

But Lady Hale emphasised in the ruling that the case was “not about when and on what terms” the UK left the EU – it was about the decision to suspend Parliament.

Delivering the justices’ conclusions, she said: “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.”

Lady Hale said the unanimous decision of the 11 justices meant Parliament had effectively not been prorogued – the decision was null and of no effect.

Speaker of the Commons John Bercow said MPs needed to return “in light of the explicit judgement”, and he had “instructed the House of Commons authorities to prepare… for the resumption of business” from 11:30 BST on Wednesday. -BBC

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