Scottish Court Rules Suspension of Parliament as Unlawful

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has denied that he lied to the Queen following a decision made by the highest civil court in Scotland that his request to prorogue Parliament was unlawful. The decision made by the Scottish courts will be tested by the Supreme Court next week, with the possibility that Parliament may be recalled.

The Prime Minister said in an interview with the BBC that he had “absolutely not” lied to the Queen, but he refused to release documents requested by the House of Commons which would further clarify the situation. He also refused to recall Parliament, saying that the matter would be decided on in the Supreme Court.

Valerie Vaz, the Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, said in a statement:

“In light of today’s judgement that the government misled the Queen and that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful, and null and of no effect, please confirm that Parliament will be recalled without delay.”

Jo Swinson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, posted on Twitter:

“Scottish judges have found in favour of 75 MPs (including me and other
@LibDems.) We argued that Boris Johnson’s Parliament shutdown is illegal, and designed to stifle parliamentary debate and action on Brexit.”

Sir John Major Joins Legal Action Over Proroguing Parliament

Sir John Major, the Prime Minister from 1990 until 1997, has confirmed that he is joining in with legal action to question the advice behind the decision to prorogue Parliament.

Major said in a statement:

“I promised that, if the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament in order to prevent Members from opposing his Brexit plans, I would seek judicial review of his action. In view of the imminence of the prorogation – and to avoid duplication of effort, and taking up the Court’s time through repetition – I intend to seek the Court’s permission to intervene in the claim already initiated by Gina Miller, rather than to commence separate proceedings.”

Clive Coleman, the BBC’s legal correspondent, said:

“You could scarcely have more heavyweight support in this legal challenge to try and stop the suspension of Parliament. We are in unprecedented times and this is an unprecedented intervention.”

Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party said on Twitter:

“Proroguing Parliament is an unprecedented affront to democracy. The rights and freedoms of our citizens have been vandalised. I will be joining the Judicial Review launched in the High Court by Gina Miller and supported by John Major.”

Jo Swinson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said in a statement:

“The attempt to shut down Parliament is an anti-democratic, authoritarian power grab by Boris Johnson, who wants to silence the people and their representatives.

The Liberal Democrats are doing all we can, both in the courts and in Parliament, to prevent both the shutdown of our democracy and a no-deal Brexit. That’s why I’ll be joining the High Court judicial review launched by Gina Miller.”

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, denied that the timing was meant to limit debate on Brexit, saying:

“We are coming up to the last period before we leave on 31 October and in that period, Parliament is going to have a lot to time – they’ve spent three years debating Brexit by the way without actually getting it over the line. They are going to have a lot of time for further consideration.”

Lord Young Quits Government Over Decision to Prorogue Parliament

Lord Young, the former Secretary of State for Transport, Leader of the Commons and Chief Whip, has confirmed that he has resigned from Government over the Prime Minister’s decision to ask for a suspension of Parliament.

Young wrote in his resignation statement:

“As a former leader of the House of Commons in the Coalition Government who restored to the Commons some of the powers it had lost to the Executive, I am very unhappy at the timing and length of the prorogation, and its motivation. While not agreeing with the hyperbole of some critics, I have been unpersuaded by the reasons given for that decision, which I believe risks undermining the fundamental role of parliament at a critical time in our history, and reinforces the view that the Government may not have the confidence of the House for its Brexit policy.”

David Lidington, Former Deputy Prime Minister, Condemns Prorogation Decision

David Lidington

David Lidington, until recently the Deputy Prime Minister in Theresa May’s Government, has condemned the decision to prorogue Parliament.

Lidington said in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme:

“If this had been done by Labour government, Jacob Rees-Mogg would have been leading the denunciations of it. Some of my Tory colleagues, who are cheering at the moment, would have been turning purple with rage.

It sets a very bad precedent for future governments. It’s a pretty good rule that if you are tempted to play around with parliamentary and constitutional procedure, is don’t do something that you wouldn’t want a government of a different party to do to you.”

Constitutional Crisis for Monarch as Prime Minister Asks for Parliament to be Suspended

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has called HM Queen Elizabeth II to suspend Parliament causing a constitutional crisis for the Monarch. John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has said that the request from the Prime Minister is a “constitutional outrage”. The Prime Minister said that the decision still allowed time to discuss Brexit, but that it would allow the Government to pursue a new domestic agenda in Parliament.

The Monarch has yet to issue a statement on what her decision will be, but Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has called the request as “reckless” Philip Hammond, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, called the decision “profoundly undemocratic”. Jo Swinson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has also confirmed that she is writing to the Queen to complain about the request.

John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, said on Twitter:

“Make no mistake, this is a very British coup. Whatever one’s views on Brexit, once you allow a Prime Minister to prevent the full and free operation of our democratic institutions you are on a very precarious path.”

Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, said that the move was “dictatorship”.

Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, said on Twitter:

“Boris Johnson fought a referendum campaign to put power back in the hands of Parliament and now he wants the Queen to close the doors on our democracy. The Leave campaign claims are unravelling. It’s time to put this to the people.”

Republic, the campaign to end the Monarchy, said in a statement:

“Already people are petitioning the Queen to intervene, but she won’t. Not because she can’t, but because the Queen’s first priority is always the preservation of the monarchy. But Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament has created a unique crisis for the Queen. The convention is that the Queen does as she’s told by the PM. But in normal times the PM has the full support of a majority in the Commons.”

Simon Clarke, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said on Twitter:

“In 400 years we haven’t had a session of Parliament that’s lasted as long as this. We need a Queen’s Speech to set out a bold agenda for after we leave the EU – on policing, infrastructure and the NHS. And there will still be time for a Withdrawal Agreement if terms are agreed.”

Yvette Cooper calls on Prime Minister to stop appointing new Peers

cooper

Yvette Cooper, one of the four candidates to be leader of the Labour Party, has called on David Cameron to stop the appointment of any more Peers to the House of Lords.

She accused the Prime Minister of “vandalising democracy” rather than working with other parties to modernise the constitution.

Cooper, who is married to the former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, wrote:

“Our uncodified constitution is being stretched at the seams and our democracy undermined by David Cameron’s pursuit of narrow party political interest. 

“For generations the constitutional settlement in Britain has relied on political parties and Prime Ministers respecting democratic principles and not using constitutional change to pursue their own party purpose. Instead David Cameron and the Tories are vandalising democracy by pursuing their own narrow party political interest rather than seeking public consent or cross party consensus for major changes to our democratic institutions

“The list of Tory party political attempted assaults on our uncodified, and partly unwritten constitution is long – trying to flood the House of Lords with more Tory appointments, to change voting in the Commons to favour the Tories, to change boundaries to help the Tories, to change party funding to hurt the Labour Party and to nobble the Speaker of the Commons. And all of it without cross party consensus, or public consent. The Conservatives are acting without a shred of integrity.

“At the same time there is a long term need for major reform especially after the Scottish referendum, to reflect greater devolution, the need for a new framework for England and Wales and for local government too. And it must include long overdue reform of the House of Lords.

“Our current constitution is out of date. But we can’t rely on this Prime Minister to modernise it in the wider interests of democracy rather than the narrow interest of the Tory Party.

“As Leader I will set up an extra-Parliamentary constitutional convention in the absence of action from the Prime Minister. I want all parties and all parts of civil society involved in this. If David Cameron won’t establish a fair and proper democratic and constitutional reform process, I will”.