The Supreme Court has ruled that prime minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful – a move that has been hailed as a triumph for the rule of law.
Johnson prorogued parliament for five weeks at the end of last month, claiming it was to allow time for his government to announce its new policies in an “overdue” Queen’s Speech.
But the court’s 11 judges unanimously ruled on Tuesday (24 September) that it was wrong to stop parliament carrying out its duties in the run-up to the Brexit deadline on 31 October.
“The effect on the fundamentals of our democracy was extreme,” said Lady Hale, delivering the court’s conclusions.
“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.”
She added that Johnson’s request to the Queen to prorogue parliament is now “unlawful, void, and of no effect”.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow welcomed the ruling and has called for parliament to reconvene at 11.30am on Wednesday (25 September).
Campaigner @thatginamiller says the Prime Minister must “open the doors of parliament tomorrow” after the Supreme Court ruled the suspension of parliament by the PM was unlawful.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 24, 2019
Speaking outside the Supreme Court, campaigner Gina Miller, who brought one of the appeals, said: “Crucially today’s ruling confirms that we are a nation governed by the rule of law.
“Laws that everyone, even the prime minister, is not above.
“Do not let the government play down the serious of the judgment today.”
Earlier this month, human rights group Liberty said it would take legal action against Johnson if he flouted a law passed by MPs which would force him to ask the EU for an extension to the Brexit deadline if he failed to get a deal by 14 October.
Bercow says Commons must “convene without delay” pic.twitter.com/1jdDSuCNgr
— John Stevens (@johnestevens) September 24, 2019
Downing Street is yet to comment on the ruling.