Government to appeal after parliament’s suspension ruled unlawful

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Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament is unlawful, a Scottish court has ruled.

The case was originally dismissed at the Court of Session last week, where Judge Lord Doherty said it was for politicians and not the courts to decide on shutting down the Commons and Lords for five weeks.

But three judges of the Inner House, the supreme civil court in Scotland, disagreed with that ruling today.

The UK government plans to appeal the latest ruling at the Supreme Court – the highest judicial body in the country.

Stock photo ID:688591980 Upload date:May 25, 2017
Image: An original ruling last week was overturned by three judges of the Inner House

A summary handed down today said: “This was an egregious case of a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behaviour of public authorities.”

It added there were two “principal reasons” for Mr Johnson closing parliament – legally known as prorogation.

First to “prevent or impede parliament holding the executive to account and legislating with regard to Brexit”.

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And second to “allow the executive to pursue a policy of a no-deal Brexit without further parliamentary interference”.

It said the suspension of parliament was therefore “unlawful and is thus null and of no effect”.

A UK government spokesperson said they were “disappointed” at the decision and claimed suspending parliament was “the legal and necessary way” of delivering “a strong domestic legislative agenda”.

Government sources believe the court’s decision does not mean parliament is automatically un-suspended, since the order enforcing will not be published before the Supreme Court showdown next week.

Labour MPs show their objection to the suspending of parliament Pic: Stephen Morgan MP
Angry MPs resist parliament’s suspension

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, called for the prime minister to call MPs back to Westminster “immediately” to “decide what happens next”.

He told Sky News: “Across the country I don’t think many people actually believe the prime minister when he said this was just for a Queen’s Speech.

“But for a court to say that the documents really point one way and that they undermine his case to a point where they’ve ruled him unlawful, that’s an incredibly powerful thing for them to have done.”

“We need to be back in parliament doing our job, at the very least looking at this judgement and deciding collectively what should happen next .”

A spokesperson for Speaker John Bercow’s office said: “Any decision to accelerate the meeting of parliament during prorogation is a matter for the government.”

Mr Johnson has insisted he suspended parliament to follow procedure, which dictates the Commons and Lords are shut down in the run up to a new Queen’s Speech.

That marks the opening of a new parliamentary session, where the monarch reads out her government’s priorities for the year ahead, and is due to take place on 14 October.

MPs debating Brexit. Pic: UK Parliament/Mark Duffy
Image: MPs have been sent away until 14 October. Pic: UK Parliament/Mark Duffy

But critics have accused him of hiding from scrutiny over Brexit and disempowering MPs at a time of national crisis.

Some tried to block the speaker leaving his chair when parliament was shut down in the early hours of Tuesday, while others held signs up saying “silenced”.

More follows…

http://news.sky.com/story/pms-suspension-of-parliament-is-unlawful-scottish-court-rules-11806812

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