A Scottish civil court has on Wednesday ruled that the decision of Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to prorogue Parliament was unlawful. This ruling was as a result of the case brought against the government by Scottish National Party lawmaker, Joanna Cherry, but the Court ruling did not say the suspension of Parliament should be overturned.
A group of about 70 lawmakers had challenged the government’s decision to prorogue parliament, or formally shut down, Parliament, for five weeks until October 14 2019, just over two weeks before Britain is due to leave the European Union.
Joanna Cherry reacting to the judgement tweeted this message on Wednesday:
‘Huge thanks to all our supporters & our fantastic legal team who have achieved the historic ruling that #prorogation is #unlawful.’ All three judges at the appeal court agreed the prorogation was unlawful, Ms Cherry said. The government said it is ‘disappointed’ by the decision of the senior Scottish judges, adding proroguing parliament was ‘legal and necessary’ the metro UK had reported.
Judge Lord Doherty originally dismissed the challenge at the Court of Session last Wednesday, saying it is for politicians and not the courts to decide. But three judges of the Inner House, the supreme civil court in Scotland, disagreed with Lord Doherty’s ruling.
The UK Government plans to appeal against the latest ruling to the Supreme Court. At the appeal hearing on Friday, Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the parliamentarians, said: ‘A decision to prorogue shuts down Parliament. It is in those circumstances an attack on democracy.
‘It is an attack on the balance of the constitution and therefore is unlawful.’ David Johnston QC, representing the UK Government, had argued it was not for the courts to get involved in what was a political decision. The campaigners who joined SNP MP Joanna Cherry included Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, Labour MP Ian Murray and anti-Brexit barrister Jo Maugham, of the Good Law Project.
MP Luciana Berger tweeted: ‘As one of the petitioners to this case, this is such an important ruling – although how awful that it’s had to come to this. ‘
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford tweeted Ms Cherry, saying: ‘This is great news, congratulations to you and all involved. This battle has further to run but my message to @BorisJohnson is you are playing fast and loose with the law.
‘You have acted in an anti-democratic manner and need to respond by recalling Parliament.’ Lawyer Jo Maugham said an appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in the United Kingdom, would begin next week.
He tweeted: ‘We have won. The appeal begins in the Supreme Court on Tuesday. ‘We believe that the effect of the decision is that Parliament is no longer prorogued. ‘I have never been able to contemplate the possibility that the law could be that our sovereign Parliament might be treated as an inconvenience by the Prime Minister.
‘I am pleased that Scotland’s highest court agrees. But ultimately, as has always been the case, it’s the final arbiter’s decision that matters. ‘We will convene again in the Supreme Court next week.’ Those bringing the legal challenge hope the suspension will be reversed, with Ms Cherry calling it an ‘undemocratic farce’. the metro UK had reported on Wednesday.
Boris Johnson who has the backing of the Queen had claimed that he took the action to prorogue Parliament so that he can start afresh on his domestic agenda at a new session of Parliament next month. But the suspension also gives him a respite from rebellious lawmakers as he plots his next move to break the political deadlock and lead Britain out of the EU by October 31st 2019.