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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019


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IN A LANDMARK ruling this morning, the UK Supreme Court ruled that Boris Johnson suspending parliament earlier this month was “unlawful, void and of no effect”. 

It is the worst possible outcome for the prime minister, who is now be under intense pressure to resign as he faces accusations that he lied to Queen Elizabeth II to prorogue parliament.

There was plenty of reaction coming and Johnson will fly back early from New York so he can attend the House of Commons tomorrow. 

So, briefly, let’s catch you up on what’s happened this morning.

  • The prime minister had claimed this was a routine measure and not aimed at preventing the opposition from getting the better of him on Brexit. The opposition had claimed otherwise.
  • The Supreme Court ruled that Boris Johnson acted unlawfully in shutting down parliament for five weeks.
  • Lady Hale, the President of the Supreme Court, announced this morning that the prorogation order was void and should be quashed – meaning that in law parliament has not been prorogued. 
  • The ruling is the worst outcome that the government could have hoped for and raises the prospect of MPs returning to parliament as early as this week as a result. 

More here.

House of Commons speaker John Bercow said in a statement he welcomes the judgement that the prorogation was unlawful. 

He said the decision had “vindicated the right and duty of parliament to meet at this crucial time to scrutinise the executive and hold ministers to account”.

Crucially, he added that the “House of Commons must convene without delay”. 

In rather good timing, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was addressing delegates at the party’s conference shortly after the decision came through.

He called on Boris Johnson to “consider his position”. 

Scottish National Party MP Joanna Cherry also called on Johnson to resign.

Speaking outside the Supreme Court in London, she said: “This was an absolutely momentous decision.”

Cherry added that the prime minister’s position is “untenable”. 

“This is a huge victory for the rule of law and democracy and in keeping with the Scottish constitutions position that neither the government or the monarch are above the law,” she said.

brexit Joanna Cherry with lawyer Jolyon Maugham Source: Jonathan Brady/PA Images

It’s being reported that Number 10 won’t respond straight away to the ruling.

Boris Johnson is due to meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar later today in New York.

*eyes emoji

Gina Miller, one of those who brought the legal challenge against the government, said outside court that the ruling “speaks volumes”. 

She said: “This prime minister must open the doors of Parliament tomorrow. MPs must get back and be brave and bold in holding this unscrupulous government to account.”

And it’s not just remain supporters.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage is sticking the boot in.

(As an aside, my colleague Gráinne Ní Aodha was in Newport in Wales at the weekend for the Brexit Party conference. Here reports are well worth a read and can be found here and here.)

Farage is blaming Dominic Cummings for the fiasco.

He’s Boris Johnson’s special adviser, and is also credited as being one of the masterminds behind the Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum.

A recent episode of’s The Explainer podcast delved into the man behind the man in Downing Street. 

You can find it here


Whoever is responsible for the whole strategy to prorogue parliament in order to secure the kind of Brexit the prime minister envisages, it’s clear that it’s backfired quite spectacularly.

Here’s a link to the full text of the ruling and here is the text of the summary Lady Hale read out in court, explaining the Court’s decision.

Here are some highlights:

“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.

“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.

“It is not clear to us that any step is needed from the Prime Minister, but if it is, the court is pleased that his counsel have told the court that he will take all necessary steps to comply with the terms of any declaration made by this court.”


Some excellent Irish-themed content to take us out of it all for a second, from our friends at The Irish For.

More reaction coming in, this time from the SDLP in Northern Ireland.

Strong language from its leader Colum Eastwood who says Boris Johnson is unfit for the office he holds.

“Earlier in the summer when Boris Johnson sought the suspension of Westminster during a critical time in the Brexit process, I accused him of behaving like a tinpot dictator,” he said. “Today’s ruling at the Supreme Court confirms that he acted unlawfully to undermine the democratic accountability and scrutiny of his government at a critical time for these islands.

“Johnson must be removed from office and Brexit called to a halt. The best way to do that is through an election. Let people have their say on the actions of this Tory/DUP government.”

fianna-fail-ard-fheis-2019 Eastwood speaking at the Fianna Fáil conference earlier this year Source: Brian Lawless/PA Images

As well as calling on Johnson to consider his position, here’s what else Jeremy Corbyn had to say earlier.

“It demonstrates, it demonstrates a contempt for democracy and an abuse of power by him,” he said. 

“And the supreme court therefore passes the baton to the Speaker to recall parliament. I will be in touch immediately to demand that parliament is recalled so that we can question the prime minister, demand that he obeys the law that’s been passed by parliament, and recognise that our parliament is elected by our people to hold our government to account.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has been speaking from Leinster House. 

She says that the UK is experiencing a constitutional earthquake, RTÉ’s Mícheál Lehane reports.

This is quite something from the Supreme Court’s judgement.

“It is impossible for us to conclude, on the evidence which has been put before us, that there was any reason – let alone a good reason – to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament for five weeks.”

shade pt 2

The BBC is reporting that Corbyn has been as good as his word and has already contacted Speaker John Bercow to discuss the return of parliament.

Not a word from Tory ministers as of yet.

Lots of jokes doing the rounds on social media that Boris Johnson should just appeal the matter to European courts.

He can’t though and Virgin Media News’ Gavan Reilly is on hand to pour cold water on the suggestion.

Some European reaction now.

Brexit coordinator for the European Parliament and MEP Guy Verhofstadt has called it “one big relief in the Brexit saga”.

“I never want to hear Boris Johnson or any other Brexiteer say again that the European Union is undemocratic,” he said.

This is Christine Bohan here taking over the liveblog from my colleague Sean Murray who has gone for a much-needed lie-down after a wild morning. 

Got anything you’d like to add? Tweet me @christinebohan, email us at or leave a comment below. 

Nicola Sturgeon has added her voice to those calling for Boris Johnson to step down. 

Speaking on Sky News right now, the First Minister of Scotland said that the Prime Minister needs to resign “if democracy is to mean anything, if accountability is to mean anything”. 

“A prime minister with any honour would tender his resignation today,” she said. 

sturgeon Source: Sky News

There are a lot of questions right now about legislation which had been going through parliament before it was prorogued, and not a lot of answers. 

Graeme Cowie, the clerk in the House of Commons library who wrote this widely-read and clear explainer on prorogation, has raised this specific issue:

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson has said that Boris Johnson is not fit for office and should resign. 

“He’s misled Queen and country and unlawfully silenced the people’s representatives,” she tweeted. I’m on my way to resume my duties in the Commons and stop Brexit altogether.”

Swinson Source: Sky News screengrab

Boris Johnson watch: Still no reaction from the UK Prime Minister, aside from the briefest of statements from Downing Street saying it was “currently processing the verdict.

It’s just after 7.10am in New York now, where Boris Johnson is – someone woke him up for this, right? 

BREAKING: John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has said that business in the House of Commons will resume tomorrow at 11.30am. 

He stresses that the House is not being recalled – “the prorogation was unlawful and is void” – but will be resuming. 

“The citizens of the UK are entitled to expect that Parliament does discharge its core functions, that it is in a position to scrutinise the executive, to hold ministers to account and to legislate if it chooses,” he said. 

Here’s the reaction from DUP leader Arlene Foster, which says that the party will respect the ruling – but little else: 

So the UK Parliament will be back tomorrow morning at 11.30 – but will the leaders of the two main parties be there? 

Boris Johnson is still in New York, and BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg has tweeted that reporters travelling with him were told last night that the trip would not be cut short. 

Meanwhile, Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn is due to address his party conference tomorrow. Will this be postponed/pushed back so that he can attend one of the most extraordinary sittings of the House of Commons in living memory? 

Some photos have just landed from PA of John Bercow’s statement to the press in the last few minutes. It’s hard to say that anyone is enjoying this… but it looks like John Bercow is enjoying this. 

brexit Source: Jonathan Brady/PA

brexit Source: Jonathan Brady/PA

brexit Source: Jonathan Brady/PA

 It’s been a hugely dramatic morning – but let’s pause for moment. The Supreme Court’s decision is not necessarily a game-changer. 

As Bronwen Maddox of UK think-tank Institute for Government points out, this will have a massive impact on how Boris Johnson and his government are perceived – but it does not have any impact right now on the Brexit timetable. 

Bringing back a parliament that has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to make a call on Brexit over three years and many votes will give them a chance to debate what happens next, but it does not necessarily mean things are any closure to a resolution. 

Former UK Prime Minister John Major, a prominent critic of the government’s decision to prorogue parliament who gave evidence to the Supreme Court case, has come out with a strong statement. 

“I hope this ruling from the Supreme Court will deter any future Prime Minister from attempting to shut down Parliament,” he said, adding: “No Prime Minister must ever treat the monarch or Parliament in this way again.”

Boris Johnson watch: He is talking to journalists in New York right now and, unsurprisingly, he’s not happy with the verdict. 

“I strongly disagree with this decision of the Supreme Court,” he says. “I have the upmost respect for our judiciary. I don’t think this was the right decision. I think that prorogation has been used for centuries without this kind of challenge.”

More on Boris: Asked if he would apologise, the UK Prime Minister said that he did not think the rule was “the right decision”. 

Boris Johnson is speaking to an audience at a breakfast event in New York at the moment. 

“I can tell you that under any circumstances, court judgements … my heart lifts when I come to New York,” he said. 

“I love the blue sky against the skyscrapers,” he said, turning to look out the window. 

He went on to talk about the “weird Marshan” architecture, and to speak about the shared values of the UK and US.  

Johnson then returned to his prepared remarks as he continued his talk. 

Lots of laughs (in the right places) from the room at the NYC event. 

His remarks to reporters earlier in New York were more relevant to today’s breaking news.

“Obviously this is a verdict that we will respect and we respect the judicial process,” he said.

“I have to say that I strongly disagree with what the justices have found. I don’t think that it’s right but we will go ahead and of course parliament will come back …

I don’t think this was the right decision, I think that the prorogation has been used for centuries without this kind of challenge.

He added:

“I do think there’s a good case for getting on with a Queen’s Speech anyway and we will do that.”

A Queen’s Speech would require parliament to be prorogued.

Expect a mention or two of Brexit shortly as Leaders’ Questions gets under way in the Dáil. 

We’ll have updates on the main points in this liveblog, and a full report afterwards

Dail Source: Oireachtas

So how long will parliament sit? 

ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston has this: 

Parliament will now sit until very shortly before the Queen’s Speech on October 14.

It will be prorogued again, but only for a day or two immediately before October 14 so that preparations can be made for the Queen’s Speech.

One outstanding question is whether MPs will allow a short recess early next week to permit the Tories to hold their annual conference, or whether MPs will feel the need to punish the Tories for the unlawful decision to send them home.

You can read more from Peston in his ITV blog here

He says Johnson is expected to fly home tonight so he can be in the Commons tomorrow. 

Sky News is reporting that Johnson will continue with most of his planned schedule in New York, including a meeting with President Trump and his speech to the UN.

This reaction from the Taoiseach is just in…

He says his planned meeting with Johnson in NYC today is still going ahead as things stand – but that that may change.

Good afternoon, Rónán Dufy here. I’m taking over our Brexit/prorogation/Supreme Court Liveblog for the afternoon and into the evening. 

It’s going to be very busy with the fallout from another unprecedented day in British politics likely to run an run. 

In the next few hours we’re going to have Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn delivering his conference speech at 4pm and an hour later Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are to meet in New York. 

Corbyn’s speech was due to take place tomorrow but events have overtaken Labour’s schedule in Brighton and he will speak today instead. 

Corbyn has already called on Johnson to resign and will likely do so again in his speech. 

Corbyn’s speech will end Labour’s conference and mean that MPs can return to Westminster for parliament tomorrow at 11.30 am. 

Some MPs are already in Westminster waiting for tomorrow and have been tweeting to let us know. 

In case anyone has lost count….

PastedImage-92040 Source: Youtube/Sky News

Johnson is in New York and was supposed to be drumming up support among the business community there today. 

He has been giving a speech to business leaders in Hudson Yards and was forced to address the Supreme Court’s admonishment of his propagation decision. 

Here’s what he said:

Because there’s been a court case in our country this morning of which I – it would be remiss or wrong of me not to address that directly and we’ve got our friends from the UK media here as well – and I just want to say to everybody watching back home for the avoidance of doubt, I have the highest respect of course for our judiciary and the independence of our courts

But I must say, I strongly disagree with this judgement, and we in the UK will not be deterred from getting on and delivering on the will of the people to come out of the EU on 31 October.

I think frankly, that is what the people in my country of the UK want to see.

They want to see us delivering on getting on with a strong domestic agenda and believe you me, they want to see Brexit delivered by 31 October.

Anyway that’s what you need to know about what’s happening in the court today.


Despite the Supreme Court admonishing his decision to propro

Speaking to journalists, Johnson went further:

As the law currently stands, the UK leaves the EU on 31 October come what may but the exciting thing now is to get on and get and deal. And to be honest with you, it hasn’t made my job much easier by this kind of stuff in parliament or in the courts.

Put to him that “as the law currently stands we cannot leave the EU without a deal without the permission of parliament” (following a vote earlier this month) Johnson stated:

“As the law stands we leave on 31 Octobre and I am very hopeful we will get a deal.”

Update on Corbyn’s speech: It’s been delayed now until 4pm. 

To be fair, I’m sure there’s a lot of rewriting to be done after today’s developments. 

British polling company is Yougov is quick off the mark. They’ve published polling on whether Johnson should resign. 

The results are 43% resign and 39% don’t resign. 

Interestingly, 18% of Tory voters think it’s time for Johnson to go. He was only voted party leader two months ago yesterday.  

To add a layer of complication on everything, there’s to be a break in parliament for the Conservative Party conference in Manchester next week.

A motion will need to be passed in the House of Commons for that recess to take place.


There had been suggestions that the conference may be delayed, but Tory MP Andrew MP has said that it will be going ahead as planned.

It’s fair to say the mood will not be the usual triumphant one you’d expect with a new party leader. 

While parliament will sit tomorrow, we don’t know yet what will be on the schedule.

We know there’ll be no Prime Minister’s Questions and it’s not looking like there’ll be a motion of no confidence in Johnson either.

One of the potential Conservative supporters of such a motion David Gauke said he wouldn’t support one, meaning the numbers look unlikely for one to succeed. 

PastedImage-26158 Source: Sky News/Youtube

Three Conservative MPs who lost the whip earlier have been speaking to Sky News.

Former junior minister Rory Stewart, who ran against Johnson in the leadership race, says Johnson’s plan to push for no-deal against the wishes of parliament has failed:

The whole strategy has collapsed, it’s now time to think again and honestly, I think the time has come to compromise, to reach across the aisles. Get parliament behind it because the only door out of this mess is through parliament because we live in a parliamentary democracy. 

Guto Bebb, who similarly lost the Conservative whip, says he personally does not have confidence in Johnson but doesn’t think such a vote would be helpful: 

I think a vote of no confidence at this point in time resolves nothing because they way the Fixed Terms Parliament Act works we end up in a 14 day period of complete chaos where we have to try and find an alternative. I do think there is a question for the Prime Minister to ask himself if he is the right person for this agenda.  

Big news here with Sky News reporter Sam Coates reporting that UK Attorney General Geoffrey Cox advised government that the propagation was legal.

Labour’s Brexit spokesperson Keir Starmer has already said that Cox should consider his position in light of this revelation and should release a statement to the House of Commons tomorrow.

PastedImage-28562 Source: Youtube

Corbyn takes to the stage in Brighton. Opens with a call for Boris Johnson to resign:

The Prime Minister has been found to have acted illegally when he tried to shut down parliament. The highest court in the land has found that Boris Johnson broke the law when he tried to shut down democratic debate and accountability at a crucial moment for our public life.

Johnson acted illegally when he tried to silence opposition to his reckless plan to crash out of the EU without a deal. But he has failed. 

“Parliament will return, the government will be held to account for what it has done. Boris Johnson has been found to have misled the country. This unelected Prime Minister should now resign.” 

Chants in the conference hall of “Johnson out, Johnson out, Johnson out!”

Corbyn says that the Conservatives want to crash out without a deal and the Liberal Democrats want to cancel the biggest democratic decision in British history. 


He again pledges that a Labour government will hold another Brexit referendum. 

“Labour will take this back to the people with a choice. Credible leave or remain. That’s not complicated,” he says. 

Corbyn has moved off Brexit and is now speaking about Labour’s priorities if it was in government. 

We’ll return to Corbyn later. 

UK think tank the Institute for Government has written an explainer about what the Supreme Court decided today. 

Among the points it addresses is what would happen if the Prime Minister were to simply prorogue parliament again:

The Supreme Court didn’t address that – but it is clear that the court sees a role in protecting Parliament from the actions of an executive which tries to frustrate it without good justification so the government would need to expect a similar outcome if it opted for an exceptional prorogation again in the run-up to Brexit. 

DUP MP Nigel Dodds has told BBC News that the ruling of the Supreme Court “must be respected” but that “shenanigans” are making it more difficult for Johnsson to agree a deal with the EU:

It’s a step into the political realm by judges but at the end of the day the government must respect the rulings of the Supreme Court and abide by them. So parliament will be recalled and we’ll be there to fly the flag and speak up for Northern Ireland.

But the crucial thing is it doesn’t really change the facts. We do need a deal with the European Union to be negotiated and all of these shenanigans in parliament, all of this maneuvering by parties to shackle Boris Johnson’s means that it’s less likely we’re going to get a deal. And that’s the really tragic part because we want a deal.        

Before we sign off on this liveblog, here’s some more of what Corbyn said about Johnson in his conference speech. He said Johnson was not fit to lead the country:

His is a born-to-rule government of the entitled who believe that the rules they set for everyone else don’t apply to them.

That’s what today’s supreme court judgement spells out with brutal clarity. There was no reason – “let alone a good reason”, the judges concluded, for the prime minister to have shut down parliament. Conference, he thought he could do whatever he liked just as he always does.

He thinks he’s above us all. He is part of an elite that disdains democracy. I tell you this, I don’t think he’s fit to be prime minister. Let me quote the Supreme Court’s decision. Conclusion: “Unlawful, null and of no effect and should be quashed.” They’ve got the prime minister down to a tee.

So that’s the end of today’s liveblog following the UK Supreme Court’s ruling that Boris Johnson acted unlawfully in proroguing parliament.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is currently meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in New York. 

The Irish Daily Mail’s political correspondent Political Correspondent Emma Jane Hade shared this picture of the pair in the past few moments. 

We’ll have the latest from that meeting later but until then thanks for joining us this afternoon. 

About the author:

Sean Murray


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