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UK govt to appeal Scottish court ruling that suspension of parliament was 'unlawful'

This case was initially brought by SNP MP Joanna Cherry.

Protesters holding Scottish and European flags gather in front of St Gilles Cathedral facing the Scottish Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland on Wednesday
Protesters holding Scottish and European flags gather in front of St Gilles Cathedral facing the Scottish Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland on Wednesday
Image: Francois Mori via PA Images

Updated Wed 10:52 AM

THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT has said it would appeal a Scottish appeal court ruling today that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament for five weeks was “unlawful”.

“We are disappointed by today’s decision, and will appeal to the UK Supreme Court,” a British government spokesman said in a statement, calling the suspension “legal and necessary”.

Last week, a judge at the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled that Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue the UK parliament was not illegal and did not breach the rule of law. 

The decision was then appealed and the verdict was delivered this morning.

The appeal court ruled the Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament this month was “unlawful”.

A summary of the judgement said Johnson’s advice to Queen Elizabeth II that parliament be prorogued from this week until 14 October “was unlawful because it had the purpose of stymying parliament”.

The BBC reports that the full judgement will be released on Friday.

It is expected the ruling will be appealed in the UK’s Supreme Court.

In a tweet this morning, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon called for the House of Commons to be recalled immediately. 

The case is one of three taken against the UK government after it announced it would be proroguing parliament in the run up to 31 October – the date on which the UK is scheduled to leave the EU. 

This case was initially brought by SNP MP Joanna Cherry and was backed by 75 parliamentarians, as well as campaigner Jolyon Maugham of the Good Law Project. 

“Huge thanks to all our supporters & our fantastic legal team who have achieved the historic ruling that #prorogation is #unlawful #Cherrycase #Brexit #StopTheCoup,” Cherry tweeted following the ruling. 

Today’s ruling comes after the UK parliament was officially suspended in the early hours of Tuesday morning after MPs rejected Boris Johnson’s second attempt to force a general election. 

It is unclear as yet if the ruling will lead to the House of Commons being recalled.

Critics of Johnson have hit out at the tactic of prorogation, arguing that it is a means of driving through the government’s “do or die” Brexit plans, leaving MPs with little time to debate the final Brexit outcome before 31 October deadline. 

Parliament is due to return on 14 October, with Johnson’s last chance to reach an agreement at the two-day EU summit starting on 17 October.

Johnson says he wants to revise the deal agreed by his predecessor, Theresa May, which MPs rejected, but says this requires keeping open the option of walking away.

Some commentators have said Johnson may be forced to resign if he does not want to make the delay request. Ministers have also hinted at a potential legal challenge against the law.

The Benn bill – which became law on Monday – would force Johnson to delay Brexit until January or later if he cannot get a deal with Brussels.

With reporting by Stephen McDermott and © AFP 2019 

 

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