UK prime minister Boris Johnson has suffered a humiliating defeat after the Supreme Court ruled that his attempt to prorogue parliament was unlawful. There are now calls for him to resign.
The Supreme Court ruling was made by eleven justices: Lady Hale, Lord Reed, Lord Kerr, Lord Wilson, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hodge, Lady Black, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lady Arden, Lord Kitchin, and Lord Sales.
Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, made it clear in her reading of the judgement that “the decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament was unlawful“:
“The decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament was unlawful.”
The UK’s Supreme Court rules there was “no justification” for Boris Johnson to suspend Parliament, and that his advice to the Queen was "of no effect". pic.twitter.com/NbYs1kWjO2
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) September 24, 2019
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In the summary, Lady Hale concludes:
This Court has already concluded that the Prime Minister’s advice to Her Majesty was unlawful, void and of no effect. This means that the Order in Council to which it led was also unlawful, void and of no effect and should be quashed. This means that when the Royal Commissioners walked into the House of Lords it was as if they walked in with a blank sheet of paper. The prorogation was also void and of no effect. Parliament has not been prorogued. This is the unanimous judgement of all 11 Justices.
As to what should happen next, Lady Hale added:
It is for Parliament, and in particular the Speaker and the Lord Speaker to 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.
The full judgement of the Supreme Court is here.
Speaker calls for resumption of parliament
Not long after the ruling, House of Commons speaker John Bercow announced that parliament will resume at 11.30am on Wednesday 25 September:
"I have instructed the House authorities to prepare for the resumption of the business of the House of Commons."
Speaker John Bercow says parliament will resume tomorrow and there "will be full scope for urgent questions" pic.twitter.com/P3To7cdoMQ
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) September 24, 2019
Bercow made it clear there will be no prime minister’s questions (PMQs).
Calls to resign
Immediately after the Supreme Court ruling there were calls for Johnson to resign.
One commentator pointed out how Johnson’s position was already weak, given his lack of a majority in the Commons and having no electoral mandate:
A prime minister elected by 0.2% of the country with no electoral mandate or majority has been judged by the Supreme Court to have unlawfully suspended parliament. He has to resign.
— James Melville (@JamesMelville) September 24, 2019
— Jessica Simor QC (@JMPSimor) September 24, 2019
And Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused Johnson of showing a “contempt for democracy and an abuse of power”. He added that Johnson should now “consider his position” (i.e. resign):
"The Supreme Court has just announced it's decision, and it shows that the Prime Minister has acted wrongly in shutting down Parliament..
— David (@IwantJC4PM) September 24, 2019
Dead in the water
Former attorney general Dominic Grieve QC has also called for the resignation of Dominic Cummings, who is Johnson’s special adviser:
WATCH: Explosive stuff from Dominic Grieve who tells me:
– Boris Johnson should resign
– He has done a 'vast amount of damage' and 'dishonoured himself'
– Dominic Cummings should quit or be sacked
– Cummings is 'willing to see anything smashed' and 'isn't fit' to be in govt. pic.twitter.com/FTD5ApOjkD
— Shehab Khan (@ShehabKhan) September 24, 2019
The ruling by the Supreme Court may well mean that not only is Johnson’s political career dead in the water, but also those in the cabinet who went along with his ill-fated attempt to prorogue parliament.
Nor should we forget the role played by Johnson’s financial backer, Crispin Odey, who it appears advocated proroguing parliament before Johnson was elected Tory leader.
For today’s ruling is stark: no one – neither the prime minister, nor his Cabinet, nor his backers – should consider themselves above the law.
Featured image via screenshot
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