British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a fresh blow yesterday when a Scottish court ruled that his controversial decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to Brexit was unlawful.
The government immediately appealed, with the case set to be heard in the Supreme Court next Tuesday, and parliament will stay shut in the meantime.
Johnson says the decision to suspend or prorogue parliament until October 14 is a routine move allowing his government to launch a new legislative agenda. Critics accuse him of trying to silence opposition to his plan to leave the European Union on October 31 even if he has not agree exit terms with Brussels.
Johnson argues that while he is working to get a deal, Britain must leave the bloc regardless but MPs fear a disorderly divorce would be hugely disruptive. Before it was suspended on Tuesday, the House of Commons rushed through legislation to force Johnson to delay Brexit if there is no deal by an EU summit on October 17.
After yesterday’s legal ruling, the opposition Labour party demanded that Johnson allow MPs to return. “I urge the prime minister to immediately recall parliament so we can debate this judgement and decide what happens next,” said Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer.
However, a government source told AFP that “nothing is changing” until the case was concluded. A cross-party group of MPs protested outside the parliament building yesterday, saying they were ready to take back their seats.
The Scottish court challenge was brought by 78 British lawmakers, who said it was unlawful for Johnson to advise Queen Elizabeth II to prorogue parliament if the aim was to limit consideration of Brexit.
A lower court last week ruled that the advice on prorogation was a matter of political judgement and not for judges to decide but this was overruled by the Inner House, Scotland’s supreme civil court.