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Thu, 4 June 2020

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Major blow for Boris Johnson as top Scottish court rules Parliament suspension 'unlawful'

Major blow for Boris Johnson as top Scottish court rules Parliament suspension 'unlawful'
3 min read

Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament has been ruled "unlawful" by Scotland's top civil court.

A panel of three judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh said the decision to prorogue was "improper" and a "tactic to frustrate Parliament".

In an explosive judgement, they said the Prime Minister had misled the Queen as to the real reasons behind the suspension, thereby making it illegal.

The case was brought by a cross-party group of 75 MPs, who claimed Mr Johnson had broken the law by shutting down Parliament for five weeks ahead of a Queen's Speech on 14 October.

They said the real reason for the shutdown was to prevent MPs from blocking his attempts to take the UK out of the EU "do or die" on 31 October.

The judges' decision overturns an initial ruling from the court which said the row was "political territory" and "not for the courts to decide further restraints on prorogation which go beyond those which Parliament provides".

In their damning ruling, Lords Carloway, Brodie and Drummond Young said Mr Johnson's decision was an "egregious case of a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behaviour".

They added: "All three First Division judges have decided that the PM's advice to the HM the Queen is justiciable, that it was motivated by the improper purpose of stymying Parliament and that it, and what has followed from it, is unlawful

"The Lord President, Lord Carloway, decided that althought advice to HM the Queen on the exercise of the royal perogative of prorogating Parliament was not reviewable on the normal grounds of judicial review, it would nevertheless be unlawful if its purporse was to stymie parliamentary scrutiny of the executive, which was a central pillar of the good governance principle enshrined in the constitution; this followed from the principles of democracy and the rule of law."

The Government have announced they will appeal the ruling at the UK's Supreme Court next Tuesday.

Opposition MPs, including the SNP's Joanna Cherry, who led the case, have now called for Parliament to be recalled "immediately".

"We've uncovered more and more evidence that this was a plot by Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg and others to prevent representing our constituents and to prevent us scrutinising them as they try to take us through a back door towards a No deal Brexit," she said.

"I would be confident that the UK Supreme Court will uphold this decision."

Labour's Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, added: "I'm really pleased with this result, but I'm surprised because for a court to make a decision like this is a huge thing. It vindicated last week."

He added: “I need to get back to parliament, to see if we can reopen the doors and hold Johnson to account.

“It was obvious to everyone that shutting down parliament at this crucial time was the wrong thing to do.

“The prime minister was not telling the truth about why he was doing it. The idea of shutting down Parliament offended everyone across the country, and then they felt they were not being told the truth.”

Responding to the ruling, a government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed by today’s decision, and will appeal to the UK Supreme Court. The UK Government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing Parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this.”