In yet another blow to his leadership, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend the Parliament from this week until mid-October was ruled “unlawful” by Scotland’s highest court on Wednesday.
A panel of three judges at the Court of Session in Scotland found in favour of a cross-party group of politicians who were challenging Johnson’s move, which saw the UK Parliament being suspended this week amid a string of Brexit vote defeats for the UK PM.
In a summary of their findings, the judges said that the suspension of the Parliament was motivated by the “improper purpose of stymying Parliament”.
“The Court will accordingly make an Order declaring that the Prime Minister’s advice to HM [Her Majesty] the Queen and the prorogation which followed thereon was unlawful and is thus null and of no effect,” the summary judgment notes, with a full judgment to be released on Friday.
The decision overturns an earlier ruling from the court, which said last week Johnson had not broken the law.
A UK government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed
by today’s decision, and will appeal to the UK Supreme
“The UK government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing Parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this.”
The ruling will not immediately affect the current suspension of Parliament, which started in the early hours of Tuesday, because no order has been given by the court to cancel the suspension.
A full hearing in the case will take place at the Supreme
Court, which starts next
UK MPs are not currently due to return to Parliament
until October 14, when there will be a Queen’s Speech outlining Johnson’s
legislative plans. Meanwhile, the UK is due to leave the European Union (EU)
on October 31.
A group of 75 largely pro-Remain MPs and peers behind the Scottish legal challenge are headed by Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Joanne Cherry, who has called for Parliament to be immediately reconvened following the ruling.
They believe Johnson’s move was entirely intended to frustrate their attempts to hold the government to account over its Brexit strategy in the days ahead of the deadline.
Meanwhile, MPs in the Commons had succeeded in getting a bill through that prohibits the government from forcibly taking the UK out of the EU on October 31 unless a withdrawal agreement is in place.