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'Lying to the queen?': Brexit drama turns to Supreme Court over Johnson suspending parliament

A Scottish court ruled last week that proroguing parliament was unlawful, and it’s been appealed to the UK Supreme Court.

Prime minister Johnson in Luxembourg yesterday.
Prime minister Johnson in Luxembourg yesterday.
Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Images

HEARINGS ARE SET to take place in the UK Supreme Court today over Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament earlier this month. 

Last week, a Scottish court ruled that this prorogation was unlawful but that will be put to the test in the UK Supreme Court in London today. The High Court in England had previously ruled in favour of Johnson’s government.

It comes after unsuccessful talks yesterday for the British prime minister with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

Critics have accused Johnson of attempting to stymie parliament and prevent opponents from delaying Brexit with the current deadline of 31 October only a few weeks away.

A judge in Scotland’s highest civil court said in their ruling: “The only inference that could be drawn was that the UK government and the prime minister wished to restrict parliament.”

His government, however, has said that parliament is dissolved yearly at the end of every session and that Johnson was simply clearing the way for a new agenda following Theresa May’s resignation in July.

A defeat for Johnson would leave him open to charges that he has effectively lied to Queen Elizabeth II, who gave the formal order to suspend parliament.

The House of Commons has passed a law forcing him to ask the other European leaders for a delay if no compromise emerges from an 17-18 October EU summit in Brussels.

Johnson, however, has said he’d rather be “dead in a ditch” than not leave the EU on 31 October and has hinted that he would still aim at leaving on that date with or without a deal.

Court proceedings could last until Thursday and the timing of any ruling is uncertain.

No progress

After yesterday’s meeting with EU figures, Juncker said that Johnson was reminded that “it is the UK’s responsibility to come forward with legally operational solutions” to the existing divorce deal that the British parliament refuses to accept.

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“Such proposals have not yet been made.”

Johnson countered that there was a “good chance” of striking a new agreement if there was “movement” from Brussels.

“If we can get that done, we’re at the races,” he said.

 With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha, AFP

About the author:

Sean Murray

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