Scottish court rules PM’s suspension of parliament ‘unlawful’

Once seen as a pillar of democracy, Britain’s Parliament has been thrown into disarray since the Brexit referendum. (File/AFP/Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament)
Updated 11 September 2019

Scottish court rules PM’s suspension of parliament ‘unlawful’

  • The British government has said it will appeal against the court ruling
  • The government is accused of trying to delay any action that would hinder Brexit

EDINBURGH: Scotland’s appeal court on Wednesday declared British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament “unlawful,” in a case brought by lawmakers and set to be appealed by the government.
The decision overturns a previous Scottish ruling which had paved the way for Johnson to prorogue parliament on Tuesday until October 14 — just a few weeks before Britain is due to leave the European Union.
However, the government immediately said it would appeal the decision to the supreme court in London.
A lawyer involved in bringing the case in Scotland suggested it may be heard as soon as next Tuesday.
Judges in the Inner House, the supreme civil court in Scotland, ruled that Johnson’s advice to the queen to prorogue parliament “was unlawful because it had the purpose of stymying parliament,” according to a summary.
The case had been brought by 78 British lawmakers, who accuse Johnson of trying to silence critics of his plan to leave the EU next month without a deal with Brussels.
A government spokesman: “We are disappointed by today’s decision, and will appeal to the UK Supreme Court.
“The UK government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this.”
It noted that a separate case brought at the high court in London last week against prorogation had failed.
A lawyer involved in the Scottish case against the government, Jolyon Maugham, tweeted that it would be considered in Britain’s Supreme Court starting on Tuesday.
The court could not be reached for immediate comment.
Suspending parliament to start a new legislative session is normally a routine event that takes place most years.
But Johnson’s decision is controversial because it would leave parliament without a voice for five weeks in the run-up to Brexit, with the divorce terms still in doubt.


UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

Updated 15 September 2019

UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

  • Johnson said he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what
  • “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the Mail

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has compared himself to The Incredible Hulk in a newspaper interview emphasizing his determination to take Britain out of the European Union next month.
Johnson faces considerable legal and political hurdles but told the Mail on Sunday he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the widely read tabloid, invoking the comic book and film character known for formidable but destructive strength.
Johnson remains defiant even though Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek an extension to the deadline if no deal is reached by mid-October. He has also lost his working majority in Parliament and been told by Scotland’s highest court that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal.
Johnson portrays himself as more convinced than ever that Britain will break with the EU at the end of October.
He will have a lunchtime meeting in Luxembourg on Monday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to try to modify the Irish backstop that has been a main sticking point, but EU leaders did not seem impressed by Johnson’s invocation of the Hulk.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the comments showed a lack of maturity.
“Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile,” he tweeted. “Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed?“
Juncker, who has downplayed hopes of a breakthrough at Monday’s meeting, also expressed alarm that many people in Britain seem to feel a British departure without a deal with the EU would be a positive thing.
“It would be terrible chaos,” he said in an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio. “And we would need years to put things back in order. Anyone who loves his country, and I assume that there are still patriots in Britain, would not want to wish his country such a fate.”
The Oct. 31 deadline looms large because Johnson has not said he will seek another extension if no deal is reached, despite legislation passed by Parliament shortly before it was suspended.
Britain’s Supreme Court this week will rule on whether Johnson overstepped the law when he shut the legislature for a crucial five-week period.
The Liberal Democrats, who have been enjoying a revival, voted overwhelmingly at their party conference Sunday to end the Brexit process entirely if they come to power.
Party leader Jo Swinson said Article 50, which triggered Brexit, would be revoked if she becomes prime minister.
The party gained an important member Saturday with the defection of Sam Gyimah, a former Conservative minister. He is the sixth legislator to switch allegiance and join the Liberal Democrats this year.
Johnson also continues to take flak from former Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the 2016 referendum on Brexit.
Cameron said in an interview published Sunday that Johnson didn’t really believe in Brexit when he broke ranks and led the campaign to take Britain out of the EU. Cameron had been expecting Johnson’s help during the hard-fought campaign.
Cameron says of Johnson: “The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”
Cameron is giving interviews to gain publicity for his upcoming memoirs.