another day at the races

Johnson says: ‘we should have an election’
Reuters, Sep 24 2019

PM Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that Britain needed a general election. “We should have an election,” he said in brief comments to reporters as he left a meeting in New York.

Boris Johnson is scheduled to make his own UNGA debut at the end of today’s session before boarding an overnight flight to the UK because of the latest crisis in his government: the British supreme court’s decision that his suspension of parliament was unlawful. Trump is scheduled to speak second this morning, and Erdoğan is the fourth scheduled speaker.

Bercow says Commons will sit at 11.30 am tomorrow

Bercow speaking to the media. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA

Bercow says the citizens of the UK are entitled to expect that parliament performs its function. He says he has instructed his officials to prepare for the resumption of the work of the Commons. It is not a recall of parliament, he says, because parliament was not properly prorogued. He says he wants it to sit tomorrow at 11.30 am. He has contacted party leaders, or senior representatives of parties where that is not possible, he says. He says it will not be possible for there to be PMQs tomorrow because of notification requirements. But he says it will be possible for MPs to table urgent questions, for ministers to make statements and for MPs to table SO24 (standing order 24) motions calling for emergency debates.

Parliament recalled immediately in wake of supreme court ruling
Rowena Mason, Peter Walker, Groon, Sep 24 2019

The speaker, John Bercow, has said the House of Commons will reconvene from Wednesday morning, as opposition parties called for Boris Johnson to resign for unlawfully asking the Queen to prorogue parliament. In a statement on College Green in Westminster, Bercow said the House of Commons would sit from 11.30 am on Wednesday in the wake of the judgment that the suspension of parliament was unlawful. Bercow said there would be no Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday but there would be scope for urgent questions, ministerial statements and emergency debate applications. The Speaker of the Commons said earlier that the the supreme court had “vindicated the right and duty of parliament to meet at this crucial time,” and he would consult Johnson, Corbyn and other party leaders about when it should meet “as a matter of urgency.” Johnson is in New York for the UNGA and Corbyn is due to give his party conference speech in Brighton on Tuesday afternoon. Johnson is yet to react to the ruling. Corbyn has brought forward his main Labour conference speech by 24 hours to Tuesday afternoon, in order to return to parliament on Wednesday. In New York, where the verdict was delivered at 5.30 am, the prime minister and his aides had a series of instant and tricky decisions to make. Officials with Johnson had said it would take time to digest what they called an “extraordinary” ruling and provide a response, and there was no indication when or how this would come. The prime minister was scheduled to make what had been billed as the major Brexit-related speech of his two-day trip at about 8 am (1 pm BST), telling Pindo business leaders and investors about how the country would change after departure. Johnson was expected to have a series of bilateral talks, including with Trump and Varadkar, and to make his speech to the general assembly. Johnson and his team face a difficult decision on whether to keep to this agenda, or to head off back to London. One option could be to take the prime ministerial plane back to London late on Tuesday rather than, as expected, first thing on Wednesday. If the current schedule is maintained, Johnson will not be back in No 10 until late Wednesday night. Speaking to reporters on the flight over, Johnson had said he would not resign if the case went against him.

Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament unlawful, supreme court rules
Owen Boycott, Groon, Sep 24 2019

The supreme court has ruled that Boris Johnson’s advice to the Queen that parliament should be prorogued for five weeks at the height of the Brexit crisis was unlawful. The judgment from 11 justices on the UK’s highest court follows an emergency three-day hearing last week that exposed fundamental legal differences over interpreting the country’s unwritten constitution. The decision was read out by Lady Hale, the president of the supreme court. Unusually, none of the parties were provided with advance copies of the judgment due to its extreme sensitivity. Only seven of the 11 justices who heard the case were present in court. The judgment is here. The first legal question the judges had to resolve was whether the prime minister’s decision exploiting residual, royal prerogative powers was “justiciable” and could consequently be subjected to scrutiny by the courts. The English high court declined to intervene; the Scottish appeal court concluded that judges did have legal authority to act. In a unanimous verdict, the court ruled that Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament can be examined by judges, overturning the ruling of the high court in London. Delivering judgment, Lady Hale said:

The question arises in circumstances which have never arisen before and are unlikely to arise again. This court has … concluded that the prime minister’s advice to Her Majesty was unlawful, void and of no effect. This means that the Order in Council to which it led was also unlawful, void and of no effect should be quashed. This means that when the royal commissioners walked into the House of Lords it was as if they walked in with a blank sheet of paper. The prorogation was also void and of no effect. Parliament has not been prorogued. It is for parliament, and in particular the Speaker and the Lord Speaker to decide what to do next. Unless there is some parliamentary rule of which we are unaware, they can take immediate steps to enable each house to meet as soon as possible. It is not clear to us that any step is needed from the prime minister, but if it is, the court is pleased that his counsel have told the court that he will take all necessary steps to comply with the terms of any declaration made by this court. The court is bound to conclude, therefore, 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.

The court stopped short of declaring that the advice given by Johnson to the Queen was improper. It was a question they did not need to address since they had already found that the effect of the prorogation was itself unlawful. While speculation ahead of the ruling was that the court would find against the prime minister, the fact that the decision is unanimous came as a surprise. Most commentators had anticipated a split decision, as there was in the article 50 judgment in 2017. Responding to the judgment, the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, said the house must “convene without delay” and that he would be consulting party leaders “as a matter of urgency.” Lawyers for the Scottish claimants and for the businesswoman and campaigner Gina Miller argued that in suspending parliament, Johnson was motivated by an “improper purpose,” namely avoiding parliamentary control over his policies. MPs and peers, they urged, should be recalled this week. James Lisbon, the solicitor at the law firm Mishcon de Reya, who represented Miller in this case, said:

We are glad that the court recognised the threat to the rule of law caused by a prorogation based on misleading advice given to the Queen. This second success for our client Gina Miller in the supreme court is a testament to her resolve to take whatever steps are required to ensure executive overreach does not become a feature of our democracy. This case shows that our courts can be relied on to hold the executive to account when necessary and is evidence of the robustness of our system of separations of powers.

Labour’s Ian Murray, one of the MPs who brought the case in Scotland, described the result as “historic” and an “astonishing rebuke to Boris Johnson for his disgraceful behaviour.” He called on the prime minister to resign. Government lawyers had told the court, which sits in Westminster directly opposite parliament, that the justices should not enter into such a politically sensitive area, which was legally “forbidden territory” and constitutionally “an ill-defined minefield that the courts are not properly equipped to deal with.” Despite torrential rain, the first members of the public began queueing outside for seats in the supreme court at 5.20am on Tuesday eager to be present for the historic decision.

2 Comments

  1. PB
    Posted September 24, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    England is now truly rudderless. You would think that Boris went in there with the intention of wrecking everything.

  2. niqnaq
    Posted September 24, 2019 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    well, so did corbyn, he is a suicide pilot too, they are both out to wreck their respective parties, very strange.

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