Johnson slammed for ‘lying to Queen’

 

Britiain's Supreme Court has delivered a hammer blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson by ruling his decision to advise the Queen to prorogue parliament was "unlawful, void and of no effect."

The shock decision was made by the maximum of 11 justices on Tuesday after it heard two appeals, one from the government and one from businesswoman Gina Miller.

MORE: Read the full judgement here

Lady Hale, who has been President of the Supreme Court since September 2017, delivered a quietly devastating judgement that ripped the government's reasoning to shreds.

"The decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification," she said.

Lady Hale said the "prolonged suspension of parliamentary democracy took place in quite exceptional circumstances."

"The effect on the fundamentals of our democracy remains extreme," she said, adding that the government did not explain why it needed five weeks to prepare for a Queen's speech rather than the typical 4-6 days.

She concluded the advice to the Queen was "unlawful, void and of no effect" and could effectively be quashed.

The decision means that Mr Johnson effectively misled the Queen when he sought royal assent to prorogue - or suspend - parliament.

The decision on whether parliament can return was left to Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord Speaker to decide. House Speaker John Bercow said parliament would resume on Wednesday in reaction to the news.

"I have instructed the House authorities to undertake such steps as are necessary to ensure that the House of Commons sits tomorrow and that it does so at 11:30am," Bercow told reporters outside parliament.

Speaking in New York where he was meeting with world leaders and business CEOs, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would respect the Supreme Court ruling but "strongly disagrees" with it.

"Obviously this is a verdict that we will respect and we respect the judicial process," he said.

"I have to say that I strongly disagree with what the justices have found. I don't think that it's right but we will go ahead and of course parliament will come back."

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson could be the shortest serving PM in British history. Picture:AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson could be the shortest serving PM in British history. Picture:AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

 

Protesters outside the Supreme Court in London chanted ‘Johnson out’. Picture: AP Photo/Frank Augstein.
Protesters outside the Supreme Court in London chanted ‘Johnson out’. Picture: AP Photo/Frank Augstein.

Mr Johnson will fly back from New York earlier than expected to attend parliament on Wednesday.

He has previously said he would not resign if the judgement went against him, however protesters outside the court changed "Johnson out" and the Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville-Roberts said "Johnson must resign".

MORE: Brits fear world 'laughing at us' on Brexit

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn invited him "to consider his position". He said Johnson should resign "and become the shortest-serving prime minister there's ever been."

The news quickly started trending in Britain along with #BorisLiedToTheQueen and #resignboris.

"His position is untenable and he should have the guts for once to do the decent thing and resign," Scottish National Party legislator Joanna Cherry said outside the court.

Businesswoman Gina Miller, who led one of the appeals, described it as a "win for parliamentary sovereignty."

MORE: The Queen privately furious with David Cameron's revelations

"MPs should turn up for work tomorrow and get on with scrutinising this government," she said. "The ruling today speaks volumes. This Prime Minister must open the doors of parliament tomorrow."

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson said the ruling made it clear that Johnson "is not fit to be prime minister."

She said he "acted unlawfully, tried to silence Parliament, tried to silence the voices of the people, because he does not want to be held to account ... for his disastrous Brexit policy."

 

Lady Hale delivered a withering judgement on the government’s decision to prorogue parliament. Picture: AP.
Lady Hale delivered a withering judgement on the government’s decision to prorogue parliament. Picture: AP.

 

The hotly-contested case marked a rare confrontation between the prime minister, the courts, and parliament over their rights and responsibilities, and also involves Queen Elizabeth II.

The government has previously insisted its decision to suspend parliament until Oct. 14 was routine and not related to Brexit. It claimed that under Britain's unwritten constitution, it is a matter for politicians, not courts, to decide.

The government's opponents argued that Johnson illegally shut down parliament just weeks before the country is due to leave the 28-nation bloc for the "improper purpose" of dodging politicians' scrutiny of his Brexit plans.

They also accused Johnson of misleading the queen, whose formal approval was needed to suspend the legislature.

 

 

The Supreme Court decision means that Boris Johnson effectively misled Queen Elizabeth II when he asked her to prorogue parliament. Picture: Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images.
The Supreme Court decision means that Boris Johnson effectively misled Queen Elizabeth II when he asked her to prorogue parliament. Picture: Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images.

Johnson and parliament have been at odds since he took power in July with the determination to take Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a divorce deal with Europe.

Mr Johnson has previously said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than seek a further extension from the EU.

Parliament has passed a law requiring him to formally seek an extension if no deal is reached by mid-October, but Johnson has said he will not do that under any circumstances, setting the stage for future confrontations.

The suspension of parliament sparked several legal challenges, to which lower courts have given contradictory rulings. England's High Court said the move was a political rather than a legal matter, but Scottish court judges ruled that Johnson acted illegally "to avoid democratic scrutiny."

- With wires

The Supreme Court case also involved the Queen and parliament - a rare confluence of key players. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images.
The Supreme Court case also involved the Queen and parliament - a rare confluence of key players. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images.


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