Wed | Sep 18, 2019

Court rules Johnson’s suspension of Parliament unlawful

Published:Thursday | September 12, 2019 | 12:25 AM
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Pimlico Primary school in London, Tuesday July 10, 2018, with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to meet staff and students. (Toby Melville/Pool via AP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Pimlico Primary school in London, Tuesday July 10, 2018, with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to meet staff and students. (Toby Melville/Pool via AP)

LONDON (AP):

A Scottish court dealt another blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans Wednesday, ruling that his decision to suspend Parliament less than two months before the UK is due to leave the European Union (EU) was an unlawful attempt to avoid democratic scrutiny.

The government immediately said it would appeal, as the political opposition demanded Johnson reverse the suspension and recall lawmakers to Parliament.

With Brexit due in 50 days, the court ruling deepened Britain’s political deadlock. Johnson insists the country must leave the EU on October 31, with or without a divorce deal to smooth the way. But many lawmakers fear a no-deal Brexit would be economically devastating and are determined to stop him.

In a surprise judgment, justices at Scotland’s highest civil court said the government’s action was illegal “because it had the purpose of stymieing Parliament”. But the Court of Session judges said Britain’s Supreme Court must make the final decision at a hearing next week.

Johnson claims he had shut down the legislature this week so that he can start afresh on his domestic agenda at a new session of Parliament next month. But the five-week suspension also gives him a respite from rebellious lawmakers as he plots his next move to break the political impasse over Brexit and lead Britain out of the EU by October 31, “do or die.”

The Scottish judges said “the only inference that could be drawn was that the UK government and the prime minister wished to restrict Parliament”.

They ruled that the suspension, known as prorogation, was “null and of no effect,” but referred the matter to the Supreme Court for resolution. A hearing there is due to begin Tuesday.

Johnson denied he was being anti-democratic.