UK Supreme Court rules Boris Johnson's suspension of parliament was 'unlawful'

HO/AFP/PRU | British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in Parliament.

Britain's Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Tuesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's five-week suspension of Parliament was "unlawful, void and of no effect".


The case marked a historic confrontation between the prime minister, the courts, and parliament over their rights and responsibilities. The court was deciding whether Johnson acted improperly by shutting down parliament for five weeks before Britain's October 31 Brexit deadline, when the country is scheduled to leave the European Union.

“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,” Supreme Court President Brenda Hale said.

“Parliament has not been prorogued. This is the unanimous judgment of all 11 justices,” she added. “It is for parliament, and in particular the speaker and the (House of) Lords speaker, to decide what to do next.”

Britain's highest court announced the decision after holding three days of hearings last week.

Following the ruling the speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow said he had instructed the House authorities to prepare for the resumption of parliament on Wednesday.

Boris Johnson's wild ride

"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.

"Specifically, I've instructed the House authorities to undertake such steps as are necessary to ensure that the House of Commons sits tomorrow and that it does so at 11.30 am, (1030GMT) " he added.

The return of lawmakers, most of whom are opposed to leaving the EU without a divorce agreement as Johnson has threatened to do, furthers the opportunity to impede the prime minister's strategy.

Some lawmakers, including those thrown out of Johnson’s Conservative Party for rebelling against his Brexit plans, had said he should resign if he was found to have misled Her Majesty The Queen.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn told his party conference that the decision shows Johnson's "contempt" for democracy and rule of law. He said Johnson should resign "and become the shortest-serving prime minister there's ever been."

"I invite Boris Johnson, in the historic words, to consider his position," Corbyn told the party faithful in the southern city of Brighton.

Former Conservative prime minister Sir John Major called on Johnson to apologise.

"Parliament must now be recalled immediately to recommence its work, and to receive the prime minister’s unreserved apology," Major said in a statement.

"No prime minister must ever treat the monarch or parliament in this way again."

For his part, Johnson renewed his call for opposition MPs to allow Britain to go to the polls. "Jeremy Corbyn is talking out the back of his neck," Johnson told reporters on a visit to the UN General Assembly in New York.

"And he should have an election," Johnson continued.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

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