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Court ruling on suspended Parliament next week

Publish date: 20 September 2019
Issue Number: 4787
Diary: Legalbrief Today
Category: Constitutional

The UK Parliament should be allowed to reassemble next week, the Supreme Court has been urged, as the legal battle over Boris Johnson’s five-week suspension threatened to escalate into a constitutional crisis over who has authority to recall MPs and peers, says a report in The Guardian. At the end of the third and final day of an emergency hearing over the lawfulness of the Prime Minister’s advice to the Queen to suspend debates, the 11 justices were asked to encourage the Speakers of the Commons and Lords to reconvene the parliamentary session. In his closing submissions, Lord Pannick QC, representing the legal campaigner and businesswoman Gina Miller, said that if the Supreme Court found that Johnson had acted unlawfully but he declined to end the suspension of parliament then ‘in those circumstances we believe it would be open to the Speaker and Lord Speaker to reassemble parliament … as soon as possible next week’. But government lawyers delivered a defiant legal note to the court in which they asserted that the Prime Minister could legitimately suspend parliament again even if the Supreme Court ruled that the prorogation had been unlawful. It stated: ‘Depending on the court’s reasoning it would still either be open or not open to the Prime Minister to consider a further prorogation.’ Lord Keen QC, representing the government, cautioned the justices that the English and Scottish applicants in the appeal ‘were inviting the court into forbidden territory’. The decision to prorogue was political and not open to challenge in the courts, he declared. The president of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale, promised that the court would deliver its ruling early next week. She added: ‘I must repeat this case is not about when and on what terms the UK leaves the EU. We are solely concerned with the lawfulness (of prorogation).’

Full report in The Guardian