Parliament could remain suspended even if court rules it unlawful, Boris Johnson argues

Posted On: 
19th September 2019

Parliament could remain closed even if Boris Johnson's decision to suspend it is ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court.

The House of Commons was prorogued on Monday, September 9
Credit: 
PA Images

A document submitted to the hearing on behalf of the Prime Minister claimed that if he loses the case “the court would and could not make any order purporting to require Parliament to be reconvened”.

Lawyers acting on behalf of anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller have called on the 11 judges hearing the case to order that Parliament sits again from next week if Mr Johnson is found to have acted unlawfully by proroguing until 14 October.

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But the Prime Minister’s legal team insisted that if the case went against the Government, Mr Johnson could choose to simply prorogue again.

The document said that forcing Parliament to reconvene before 14 October would present "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".

It went on: "Extensive arrangements would have to be made, including as to security, to enable this to occur."

The document was entered on the third and final day of a landmark hearing challenging Mr Johnson's decision to prorogue Parliament.

Lord Pannick QC, representing Ms Miller, suggested the court should encourage "the Prime Minister to ensure that Parliament meets as soon as possible next week" if the judges fund against him.

Separately, the Supreme Court also heard the Government's appeal against a ruling last week by the Court of Session in Edinburgh that the prorogation was unlawful.

That case was brought by 75 MPs led by the SNP's Joanna Cherry. Speaking outside the court, she said: "This is a matter of legality. This is a matter of upholding democracy and a matter of upholding the rule of law."

She said the court needs to be "as clear as they possibly can about the consequences of their decision if they find in our favour" to leave the Prime Minister with "no room for any more dirty tricks", adding: “Parliament should sit again as soon as possible.”

Supreme Court president Lady Hale summed up, saying “none of this is easy”, and that the 11 justices would rule on the proceedings "as soon as it humanly can".

She said the court hoped "to be able to publish our decision early next week", although Mr Johnson is due to be in New York for the UN General Assembly, while Jeremy Corbyn will be in Brighton for Labour’s annual conference.