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A Constitutional Crisis? Boris Johnson’s Suspension of Parliament Ruled Unlawful

Will the UK Supreme Court agree with Scotland’s Court of Session when it makes a final decision on the proroguing of Parliament next week?

Will the UK Supreme Court agree with Scotland’s Court of Session when it makes a final decision on the proroguing of Parliament next week?

The Government’s suspension of Parliament is unlawful, Scotland’s highest court has ruled.

In a stunning move, there were gasps in court one of the Inner House of the Court of Session as the Lord President, Lord Carloway, said that, while the order by the Queen to suspend Parliament was not subject to legal challenge, the advice given by ministers to her “was motivated by the improper purpose of stymying Parliament” and hence broke “the good governance principles enshrined in the constitution”.

Another member of the three-judge panel, Lord Brodie, said that this particular prorogation “was a tactic to frustrate Parliament” and attempt to “allow the executive to pursue a policy of no deal Brexit without further parliamentary interference”.

The third judge, Lord Drummond, said that the documents provided showed “the only inference that could be drawn was that the UK Government and Prime Minister wished to restrict Parliament”.

The court then made an order declaring that the Prime Minister’s advice to the Queen and the prorogation which followed were unlawful “and is thus null and of no effect”.

Permission was given to the Government to appeal the ruling to the UK Supreme Court in London. That hearing is set for 17 September.

Outside the court, MP Joanna Cherry and legal campaigner Jolyon Maugham QC praised the decision, with Cherry calling that it was “probably the most significant constitutional law decision of the last century”.

In a statement, Maugham said: “I have never been able to contemplate the possibility that the law could be that our sovereign Parliament could be treated as an inconvenience by the Prime Minister.”

With Britain now facing a full blown constitutional crisis – and the opposition parties demanding that Parliament should immediately resume its deliberations – next week’s hearing at the Supreme Court could not be more significant. 

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