Suspension of British Parliament illegal: Court

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

LONDON • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced calls from opposition parties to resign after the British Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday that his decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful.

Parliament had been suspended, or prorogued, from Sept 10 to Oct 14 by Queen Elizabeth II, acting on the advice of Mr Johnson.

"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 yesterday, speaking for the 11-judge panel that heard the case.

Mr Johnson's opponents had said that the unusually long break was designed to thwart scrutiny of his plans for leaving the European Union and to allow him to push through Brexit on Oct 31.

"Parliament has not been prorogued," Lady Hale said yesterday. "It is for Parliament, and in particular the Speaker and the Lord Speaker, to decide what to do next."

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Johnson should resign and that Labour was ready to form the government. "I invite Boris Johnson... to consider his position," Mr Corbyn said at a party conference. "And become the shortest-serving prime minister there has ever been."

The Liberal Democrats as well as Welsh and Scottish nationalists also demanded that Mr Johnson quit.

 

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow welcomed the ruling, and said Parliament will resume its deliberations today at 11.30am.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2019, with the headline 'Suspension of British Parliament illegal: Court'. Print Edition | Subscribe