Sat, 22 January 2022

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John Bercow orders Commons to reopen after Supreme Court rules Boris Johnson's shutdown 'unlawful'

John Bercow orders Commons to reopen after Supreme Court rules Boris Johnson's shutdown 'unlawful'
3 min read

John Bercow has ordered MPs to return to the Commons on Wednesday after the Supreme Court gave an "unambiguous" ruling that Boris Johnson's decision to prorogue Parliament was unlawful.

The Commons Speaker confirmed that MPs would return to the benches from from 11:30am on Wednesday as he hit out at the Prime Minister for having "prevented" Parliament from doing its job.

Jeremy Corbyn's speech to his party's annual conference has also been brought forward to Tuesday, Labour confirmed, with the ruling by Britain's highest court ripping up the timings for the party's Brighton gathering.

Deputy leader Tom Watson has also announced that he will now no longer address the conference - after his speech was initially pushed back to Wednesday by party bosses.

Speaking in front of the Houses of Parliament after the court delivered its verdict, Mr Bercow said: "I welcome the judgment this morning of the Supreme Court. That judgment is unanimous, that judgment is unambiguous and that judgment is unqualified.

"As you all now know, that judgment as that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful; unlawful because it prevented or frustrated Parliament in the discharge of its core duties.

"And it did so at a crucial time for our country. The citizens of the UK are entitled to expect that Parliament does discharge its core functions, that is in a position to scrutinise the executive, to hold ministers to account and to legislate if it chooses."

And he added: "In the light of that explicit judgment I have instructed the House authorities to prepare not for the recall - the prorogation was unlawful and is void - but to prepare for the resumption of the business of the House of Commons.

"Specifically I've instructed the House authorities to undertake such steps as are necessary to ensure that the House of Commons sits tomorrow and that is does so at 11.30am."

The Speaker confirmed he had been in contact with party leaders about the move to recall Parliament in a bid to ensure the House of Commons can continue to "do its work".

While the usual round of Prime Minister's Questions will not go ahead, Mr Bercow said there would be "full scope for urgent questions, for ministerial statements, and for applications for emergency debates under Standing Order 24".

"I hope you will agree the position is clear and unmistakeable," he added.

Meanwhile the House of Lords Speaker, Lord Fowler, said the Supreme Court had handed down a "clear" judgment.

And he said: "It is my expectation that the House of Lords will resume sitting at the earliest opportunity and I am in discussions with the Leader of the House of Lords, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition and the other party leaders about the process.”

In a major blow for the Prime Minister, the Supreme Court ruled that his decision to suspend - or prorogue - Parliament for five weeks was "unlawful" because it was designed to stop MPs scrutinising the Government's Brexit plans.

Eleven judges unanimously agreed that his true motivation had been to stop Parliament from carrying out "its constitutional functions" by being able to hold the Government to account.

Delivering the ruling, Supreme Court president Lady Hale said Parliament had not, therefore, been prorogued.

She said: "The court is bound to conclude that 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."

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