Johnson faces Brexit flak from EU lawmakers, top UK court
STRASBOURG, France — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused by European Union officials Wednesday of failing to negotiate seriously and branded the “father of lies” by a lawyer in the U.K. Supreme Court, as his plan to leave the EU in just over six weeks faced hurdles on both sides of the Channel.
In Strasbourg, France, the European Parliament said it would be the fault of Britain, not the bloc, if the U.K. crashed out of the EU without a divorce deal on the scheduled Oct. 31 departure day.
In London, Johnson’s government battled to convince the U.K.’s top court that the prime minister’s decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks with Brexit looming was neither illegal nor improper. The government’s opponents claim Johnson illegally shut down the legislature to prevent scrutiny of his Brexit plans.
Government lawyer James Eadie told 11 Supreme Court justices that if the court intervened it would violate the “fundamental constitutional principle” of the separation of powers.
But a lawyer for lawmakers challenging the shutdown accused the government of being “unworthy of our trust.”
“We’ve got here the mother of parliaments being shut down by the father of lies,” said attorney Aidan O’Neill.
The judges, for their part, wondered why Johnson had refused to provide a sworn statement about his reasons for the suspension.
“Isn’t it odd that nobody has signed a witness statement to say: ‘This is true. These are the true reasons for what was done’?” said Nicholas Wilson, a judge.