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London: Eleven judges in Britain’s highest court delivered a momentous blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government on Tuesday when they unanimously pronounced his five-week prorogation of Parliament was unlawful.
The UK Supreme Court quashed the suspension of Parliament, triggering calls from opposition leaders for Johnson’s resignation and for an emergency national unity government to be formed.
The justices ruled the Prime Minister’s decision to advise the Queen to suspend Parliament from the second week of September “was unlawful” because it had the effect of preventing Parliament from carrying out its constitutional functions as a legislature. The judges said: “The effect upon the fundamentals of democracy was extreme” and “no justification had been put before the court”.
Delivering the verdict, Supreme Court President Lady Hale said: “The Prime Minister’s advice to Her Majesty was unlawful, void and of no effect. The Order in Council (legislation made in the name of the Queen) to which it led was also unlawful, void and of no effect and should be quashed. This means the prorogation was also void and of no effect. Parliament has not been prorogued.”
Speaker John Bercow announced Parliament would convene on Wednesday and there would be scope for urgent questions and applications for emergency debates, meaning Parliament could once again seize control of the order paper.
Speaking from New York where he is attending the UN General Assembly, Johnson said he respected the judgment but “strongly disagreed” with it. “The prorogation has been used for centuries without this Johnson on Tuesday renewed his call for the rival Labour Party to back new elections. ‘The obvious thing to do is call an election. Jeremy Corbyn is talking out the back of his neck,’ Johnson told reporters on a visit to New York, referring to the Labour leader
kind of challenge. There are a lot of people who want to frustrate Brexit and we have a Parliament that is unable to be prorogued, does not want to have an election and I think it’s time we take things forward. The people of the UK want to see Brexit delivered. On October 31 , we intend to be more global and outward-looking than ever before and we are going to take advantage of all the freedoms that Brexit can give,” he said.
The justices were deciding on two appeals — one brought by anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller against the high court which had earlier dismissed her challenge to the lawfulness of prorogation, as well as an appeal brought by the advocate general against a Scottish judgment which had found prorogation was “motivated by stymying parliamentary scrutiny of government”.
“No one is above the law — not even Boris Johnson and his entitled chums,” said PIO shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti, whose parents hail from Kolkata.
Leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn said: “I invite Boris Johnson to consider his position and become the shortest serving PM there has ever been,” he said.
The odds of Johnson being gone by the end of the year plunged to odds-on at 10/11, according to betting provider Betfair Exchange. A UK general election looks almost a certainty this year at odds of 4/9. London: On PM Boris Johnson’s turbulent path to Downing Street, serial philandering and ethical sloppiness became part of his shtick, blots on a career so chaotic and beguiling that the British public always seemed to forgive the mistakes. But Johnson is now facing a potentially more serious accusation of mixing friendship with a young woman and misspent public money, one that could test voters’ patience in a looming general election.
In an article published this weekend, The Sunday Times of London reported that, when Johnson was mayor of London, his office directed tens of thousands of pounds in government money to a fledgling entrepreneur and close friend London: Even before she delivered the momentous decision that crushed PM Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament, supreme court president Lady Brenda Hale had brought a blast of fresh air to Britain’s stuffy and male-dominated institutions.
After she read out the court’s ruling on live television on Tuesday morning, Hale was being lauded as fashion and feminist icon — due in part to the huge spider brooch that adorned her trim black outfit. “The Beyonce of the legal world...stole the show with her spider brooch,” said the Daily Mirror. The Guardian suggested the brooch may have given a clue to which way the ruling was going to go. “Wearing a spider to deliver news that trapped the prime minister felt pointed,” it said.
The brooch is one in a collection which Hale sports in whose apartment he often visited during working hours.
The entrepreneur, Jennifer Arcuri, an American and a former model, was 27 when she first crossed paths with Johnson in 2012. In the ensuing years, she was given coveted spots on trade missions with the mayor to Tel Aviv, New York, Singapore and Malaysia. In some instances, Johnson’s office intervened to add her to the roster even though she did not meet the court that also includes a frog, a fox and a centipede. But as a very modern women, she might not welcome the attention on how she dresses and would rather the focus was on how she runs the United Kingdom’s highest judicial body.
The supreme court has only been in existence since 2009. Never in its short history had it weighed such a momentous case. And never had Britons been treated to so many modern trappings at a core establishment institution. criteria for trade delegates, The Sunday Times reported.
Johnson repeatedly refused to answer questions about the article, including whether he was in a sexual relationship with Arcuri at the time.
And the British Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which this year awarded Arcuri’s company a grant of £100,000 intended for British firms, said it was investigating the grant after it was reported that Arcuri had vacated the company’s registered address in England and now lives in California.
“This goes into a new category — it’s no longer just the tabloid sex scandal thing,” said Sonia Purnell, author of “Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition.” “Every single ingredient there is alarming. ”
Unlike other British courts, Hale and her fellow judges do not wear wigs nor do they sit in an elevated position.
While TV cameras are barred from nearly all other tribunals, the supreme court’s live stream on the first day of the hearing was accessed on its website more than 4 million times. Thrust into the Brexit maelstrom, Hale insisted her court was determining points of law, not politics. “I must repeat that this case is not about when or on what terms the UK leaves the EU,” she told the court when hearings finished.
Hale, 74, became SC president two years ago and is emblematic of its modern face. She became a high court judge in 1994 and Britain’s first female law lord in 2004 — until recently the top court’s only woman. Last year, she made a brief appearance on a TV cooking show MasterChef.