Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

Court rules British PM's suspension of Parliament is illegal

UK government says it will appeal against ruling by Scottish court

Scotland's highest court has ruled Britain's prime minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament is unlawful.  
Scotland's highest court has ruled Britain's prime minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament is unlawful.  

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend the UK Parliament this week has been ruled unlawful.

On Wednesday, Scotland’s highest civil court, the Court of Session, ruled that Mr Johnson was trying to stop Parliament holding the government to account ahead of Brexit.

A panel of three judges found in favour of a case brought by a cross-party group of politicians to challenge it.

But Mr Johnson said on Wednesday that he wanted to push on with his own plans to improve the country and called on opposition parties to agree to a general election.

The UK government said it would appeal against the ruling to the Supreme Court in London.

“We are disappointed by today’s decision and will appeal to the UK Supreme Court,” a government spokesman said.

“The UK government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing Parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this.”

The suspension began in the early hours of Tuesday and is due to last until October 14.

Mr Johnson claims the move will enable him to thrash out a divorce deal with the EU before Britain leaves on October 31.

The ruling will not be implemented until the appeal hearing at the Supreme Court in London next week.

A group of more than 70 legislators had argued that Mr Johnson's move was unconstitutional because it curtailed debate in the run-up to the Brexit deadline.

On Wednesday, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said the government was “negotiating very hard’’ with the EU to “very explicitly remove the backstop from the withdrawal agreement".

The Irish backstop would ensure that there was no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which is a member of the EU.

But this would mean that Britain to some extent stays linked to the EU, which pro-Brexiteers are against.

Shadow secretary of state for Brexit, Sir Keir Starmer, welcomed the Scottish court's ruling.

"No one in their right mind believed Boris Johnson's reason for shutting down Parliament," Mr Starmer said.

"I urge the Prime Minister to immediately recall Parliament so we can debate this judgment and decide what happens next."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government would work until the “last day” to ensure the UK left the EU in an orderly way, but insisted that her country was ready for a no-deal Brexit.

“I’m firmly convinced as before that we have every opportunity to do it in an orderly fashion, and the German government will work until the last day to ensure that that’s possible,” she said on Wednesday.

“But I can also say that we’re prepared for a disorderly exit.”

Spain said it would not allow further concessions to the UK.

Euro-sceptics such as Mr Johnson are particularly critical of the Irish backstop.

"The backstop is going to be removed, I very much hope, I insist, because that's the only way to get a deal," he said during a broadcast on Facebook.

Updated: September 12, 2019 12:50 AM

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