British Supreme Court: Prime Minister Suspending Parliament was Illegal
A dramatic statement by the British Supreme Court: the suspension of the parliament by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is illegal. A damning verdict and the worst possible outcome for Johnson.
His opponents call for his resignation and say that his position has become untenable. The parliament will meet again tomorrow.
Supreme Court Lady Hale said this morning that the suspension would prevent Parliament from performing its constitutional duties without justification. Contrary to expectations, the verdict was unanimous: all eleven judges of the London court ruled that Johnson acted illegally by closing the parliament for five weeks in the crucial period leading up to the October 31 Brexit date.
The lawyers of the government argued as an English judge did before, that the suspension was a political matter and did not belong in court. The Supreme Court dealt briefly with that argument. “The suspension was invalid and therefore has no effect,” said Lady Hale.
The parliament has therefore never been suspended, and it is as if it never happened. “It is now up to the parliament and the presidents of the House of Lords and Lower House to take the next steps so that they can sit down again.”
Johnson suspended parliament until October 14, saying he said it was high time for a new parliamentary year. He said he needed that time to make new government plans so that they could present a speech on the throne on October 14.
The sessions of the lower house are often suspended during this time of party congresses and in the run-up to a new “parliamentary season”. But Johnson would have stretched the suspension to get his Brexit through – if necessary without a deal. He would like to silence the parliament and not give him time to discuss the approaching Brexit extensively.
According to the eleven judges of the Supreme Court, his suspensions were unlawful because the result of the suspension was that the parliament could not do its job and perform its monitoring duties. “This is not a normal prorogation, these are unusual circumstances,” said Lady Hale. The parliament must have a vote. The effect of this suspension on our parliamentary democracy was extreme.