UK Supreme Court rules decision to suspend Parliament 'unlawful'; PM Johnson insists on Oct 31 Brexit

VIDEO: REUTERS
People protesting outside the Supreme Court in London on Sept 17, 2019, against Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to prorogue Parliament.
People protesting outside the Supreme Court in London on Sept 17, 2019, against Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to prorogue Parliament.PHOTO: REUTERS
A protester stands outside the Supreme Court after the hearing.
A protester stands outside the Supreme Court after the hearing.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday (Sept 24) that Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted unlawfully when he advised Queen Elizabeth to suspend Parliament just weeks before Brexit and that, therefore, the legislature had not been prorogued.

“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,” said Supreme Court president Brenda Hale.

The ruling was a unanimous decision by the court’s 11 presiding judges.

“Parliament has not been prorogued. This is the unanimous judgment of all 11 justices,” Justice Hale said. "It is for Parliament, and in particular the Speaker and the Lords Speaker, to decide what to do next.”

Parliament had been suspended, or prorogued in British jargon, from Sept 10 to Oct 14.

The prorogation was approved by Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s politically neutral head of state, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister as she is required to do under the country’s complex, uncodified Constitution.

Mr Johnson said the Supreme Court ruling against him had hindered his attempt to get a Brexit deal but that as the law currently stood, the United Kingdom would leave the European Union on Oct 31.

"As the law stands, we leave on Oct 31 and I am very hopeful that we will get a deal and I think what the people of the country want is to see parliamentarians coming together working in the national interest to get this thing done and that is what we are going to do," he said.

Britain’s House of Commons must convene without delay, Speaker John Bercow said on Tuesday, welcoming the ruling.

“As the embodiment of our parliamentary democracy, the House of Commons must convene without delay. To this end, I will now consult the party leaders as a matter of urgency,” Mr Bercow said in a statement released by his office.

 
 
 
 

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on Mr Johnson to consider his position and call a new election after the Supreme Court ruled that the Prime Minister’s move to suspend Parliament was unlawful.

To huge cheers and chants of “Johnson out!”, Mr Corbyn said the British Prime Minister should become the shortest-ever serving leader and that Labour was ready to form a government.

“I invite Boris Johnson, in the historic words, to ‘consider his position’,” Mr Corbyn told delegates at the Labour Party’s annual conference in Brighton.

The European Commission declined to comment on “internal constitutional matters” of the UK.

The speaker of Britain’s House of Commons says Parliament will resume its deliberations on Wednesday at 11.30am.

Mr Johnson will not resign and will fly back to London after his speech to the United Nations on Tuesday, a Downing Street source said.