Government minister repeatedly refuses to rule out fresh prorogation of Parliament
A government minister has refused to rule out the possibility of Boris Johnson suspending Parliament again if he loses a landmark court case.
Victoria Atkins repeatedly said she would not be drawn on how the Government will respond if the Supreme Court judgement goes against it.
Eleven of the UK's most senior judges will give their ruling next week following a three-day legal battle in which the Prime Minister was accused of acting unlawfully by proroguing Parliament.
The Government has insisted it was a routine move ahead of a Queen's Speech on 14 October, but critics claimed it was aimed at preventing MPs from frustrating Brexit ahead of the 31 Octover deadline.
On Question Time on Thursday night, Ms Atkins, who is women's minister, was asked to respond to reports that the Government is considering a second prorogation if it loses the court case.
She said: "Please, I’m going to play with a very, very straight bat on this one and just say I can’t comment further until the judgement."
When asked by presenter Fiona Bruce whether she could rule it out, Ms Atkins replied: "I appreciate that, taking this step by step, these are such uncharted territories. You heard today the Government’s counsel Lord Keen ..."
After being asked a third time what the Government planned to do, the minister said: "First of all, you’ll appreciate I’m not at a level where I’m involved in any conversations of a constitutional notion, but I must defend ..."
Ms Bruce then asked Ms Atkins whether she supported another prorogation. She replied: "I’ve got to play with a straight bat."
Lawyers actings on behalf of anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller have said Parliament should return next week if the Government loses the case.
But documents submitted to the court on behalf of Boris Johnson said that would have "very serious practical consequences ... given that bringing forward the meeting of Parliament would require both a meeting of the Privy Council and a new Queen’s Speech at a date earlier than currently planned".