Boris Johnson is a disturbing prime minister
Scottish judgment: Parliament closes "invalid"
A Scottish court approves plaintiffs against Boris Johnson's “prorogation” of the British Parliament. The last word now has the Supreme Court.
Announcement of the verdict in Edinburgh, Wednesday Photo: ap
BERLINtaz | A court in Scotland ruled that Tuesday's session of the UK Parliament (“prorogation”) ended unlawful. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's request to the Queen was "unlawful because its purpose was to shut down parliament," ruled the Scottish Court of Session - the highest Scottish court for civil matters - on Wednesday.
"The court will accordingly ruling that the Prime Minister's motion to the Queen and the subsequent prorogation was illegal and therefore invalid," the two-page summary of the judgment, which the court publishes at noon, ends. The full text of the verdict is expected on Friday.
On August 28, Boris Johnson had ordered the end of the current session of Parliament - the longest since the Second World War - during the week of September 9 to 12; this was implemented by the Queen. The next meeting is scheduled to begin on October 14th with a new government statement.
Critics called this “forced break” a “coup” that was supposed to paralyze parliament during the hot phase of Brexit, and they filed lawsuits in Scotland and England. A Scottish and an English court agreed with the government last week; the “prorogation” was then implemented last Tuesday night and parliament has now been postponed until October 14th.
There are now two equal but opposing judgments. The British Supreme Court in London has the final say and is due to deliver a verdict on September 17th.
Legal opinions diverge
From the point of view of the plaintiffs, the end of the session of Parliament is no longer legal and Parliament must continue to sit. A Welsh Labor MP immediately visited the empty Chamber of Commons on Wednesday lunchtime and announced on Twitter that Boris Johnson was not there, even though Question Time with the Prime Minister was ongoing. Nobody else was there either, except for tourists.
The office of the President of Parliament, without whose presence Parliament cannot meet, let it be known that withdrawing the “prorogation” or other steps would be a matter for the government alone. A spokesman for the prime minister said the "prorogation" was going on and that they were awaiting the judgment of the supreme court, which they would obey in any case.
The legal opinions about the exact meaning of the judgment differ, also since only the summary is available so far. On the one hand, this declares the “prorogation” to be invalid, but in the matter only relates to the Prime Minister's request, not to its implementation by the Queen.
Everything now depends on the decision of the Supreme Court. What is particularly complicated is that Scottish and English law are different and have now resulted in two opposing judgments. The English High Court found that the grounds for the “prorogation” were not justiciable; the Scottish Court of Sessions has come to the opposite conclusion.
The Queen misled?
It is also unclear what would follow if the Supreme Court were to find the invalidity of the “prorogation” and thus the actual continuation of the session just ended. In fact, the MPs are already preparing for their respective annual party congresses from next weekend. It remains to be seen whether they want to continue working in London instead.
In any case, the plaintiffs have asked the government to convene parliament again immediately. Legally, however, the government may first wait for the supreme court.
On the other hand, if the session that has just ended has not actually ended, things like new motions for new elections will also become easier. Johnson, for his part, could also simply initiate another “prorogation”, this time justified and for a shorter period of time. Critics, on the other hand, are calling for Boris Johnson to resign should it be legally established that he has misled the Queen in order to close Parliament.
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