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Dublin: 14°C Tuesday 16 August 2022

John Major says it's 'striking' that Boris Johnson hasn't rebutted Supreme Court arguments

Lord Pannick argued prorogation was triggered because Johnson saw parliament as a threat to his policies.

Anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller arrives at the Supreme Court in London today.
Anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller arrives at the Supreme Court in London today.
Image: Alastair Grant via PA Images

UK SUPREME COURT has been told that the five-week length of prorogation was motivated “to prevent scrutiny by parliament” on the Prime Minister “because he regarded parliament as a threat to the implementation of his policies”.

“There is no rational explanation for the length of prorogation,” the court was told.

Closing statements have been given to the 11-judge panel of the Supreme Court by Lord Pannick, QC for Gina Miller and Sir John Major, and Lord Keen, QC for the British government.

In his submission, former Prime Minister John Major argued that “there is a world of difference between a prorogation which facilitates parliament’s ability to pass legislation and a prorogation which impedes it”.

Major has argued that “the inference was inescapable” that Johnson’s decision to prorogue was motivated by by wanting no activity in the House of Commons in the period leading up to the EU Council summit.

Somewhat strikingly, it remains genuinely unclear whether the Defendant disputes that proposition. No witness statements or affidavits have been filed to that effect. The Defendant’s written and oral submissions to the Divisional Court studiously avoided committing to any clear position on the issue.

He also argued that “it would be very straightforward” for Boris Johnson or a senior official to sign a witness statement confirming that the decision had nothing to do with Brexit if that were the case, but “despite repeated requests nobody has been prepared to do so”.

The Supreme Court is to determine whether UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s five-week suspension of parliament was unlawful.

Judges will rule on appeals against two conflicting lower court decisions, after Scotland’s highest civil court found the suspension was illegal, but the High Court in England said it was not a matter for judges to intervene in the world of politics.

A court in Belfast concluded similarly in relation to a case put before it relating to prorogation, a no-deal Brexit and the Good Friday Agreement.

A maximum 11 of the 12 Supreme Court judges are hearing the case. They have not said when they intend to make a ruling, following three days of legal arguments. 

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