Supreme Court verdict on Boris Johnson’s suspension of UK Parliament to come next week

The United Kingdom's (UK) Supreme Court will deliver its verdict next week in a landmark case on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to prorogue Parliament. 

The UK's top court must decide whether Johnson acted illegally by sending lawmakers home just weeks before the country is due to leave the European Union (EU) on October 31.
The UK's top court must decide whether Johnson acted illegally by sending lawmakers home just weeks before the country is due to leave the European Union (EU) on October 31. Photo courtesy: UK Supreme Court

Indian-origin anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller’s lawsuit had been dismissed by the High Court, which granted her permission to appeal, resulting in the unprecedented Supreme Court sitting of 11 judges.

The UK's top court must decide whether Johnson acted illegally by sending lawmakers home just weeks before the country is due to leave the European Union (EU) on October 31. At the end of a three-day hearing the court's president, Brenda Hale, said the 11 judges would give their ruling early next week.

The bench is also simultaneously hearing the UK government's appeal against a contradictory ruling by Scottish High Court judges who had declared the Parliament suspension "unlawful".

"It is so much more important even than Brexit. It is about how we are governed, about preserving our ancient democratic freedoms, and trying at all costs to stop a dangerous precedent being created that threatens constitutionally, politically and economically to impoverish us all," said Miller, in reference to her appeal.

Boris Johnson could refuse to recall parliament even if the Supreme Court rules that his decision to suspend it was unlawful, the government has said.
Boris Johnson could refuse to recall parliament even if the Supreme Court rules that his decision to suspend it was unlawful, the government has said. Photo courtesy: UK government

Johnson maintained it was his right to terminate the last session of the Parliament, which rose last Tuesday, ostensibly to prepare for the Queen's Speech on October 14 in which his new government will outline its legislative plans for the year ahead.

But the Opposition parties and some members of his own Conservative Party questioned his motivation behind advising Queen Elizabeth II to suspend Parliament, saying it had to do with Brexit and Johnson’s "do or die" pledge to take the UK out of the EU by the October 31 deadline, if necessary without a deal.

Lawyers for Gina Miller and joint campaigners challenging the suspension told the Supreme Court on Tuesday there was "strong evidence" the British PM saw MPs "as an obstacle" and wanted to "silence" them.

Lord David Pannick, a House of Lords peer and senior barrister representing Gina Miller in the Supreme Court appeal told the judges that the facts showed that Boris Johnson had advised the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks "because he wishes to avoid what he saw as the risk that Parliament, during that period, would take action to frustrate or damage the policies of his government".

In response, Sir James Eadie QC on behalf of the government argued that Parliament had previously passed laws addressing aspects of prorogation, but there was no law relevant to this particular case - meaning the courts could not intervene.

Anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller, whose motion was debated in the Supreme Court, has said her case is much more important than even Brexit. Photo courtesy: Twitter
Anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller, whose motion was debated in the Supreme Court, has said her case is much more important than even Brexit. Photo courtesy: Twitter

He said prorogation was "a well-established constitutional function exercised by the executive" and decisions about it were "squarely… within that political or high policy area".

It marks only the second time that 11 justices are sitting in a UK Supreme Court case - the first time also involved Gina Miller in her successful challenge against then Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger Article 50 to start the process for leaving the European Union (EU) without parliamentary approval.

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CtoI News Desk
CtoI News Desk – CtoI

Singapore-headquartered online media company targeting Indian Diaspora across Singapore, US, UK and Dubai. Connected to India covers developments around Indians abroad, informing, engaging and entertaining its audiences.

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