Boris Johnson was dealt yet another grievous blow on Tuesday, when the UK Supreme Court ruled that his suspension of Parliament was unlawful.
Allow us to emphasize: Boris Johnson broke the law by suspending Parliament. His advice to the Queen is deemed void, and the prorogation is of no effect. Parliament should convene soon, the court said.
“The effect on the fundamentals of our democracy was extreme”, Lady Hale said, delivering the result. “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”.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow – whose plan to step down was announced to dramatic effect during the arduous proceedings on September 9 – said Parliament should convene “without delay”.
“In reaching their conclusion, they have vindicated the right and duty of Parliament to meet at this crucial time to scrutinize the executive and hold minister to account”, Bercow said, adding that he’d meet with party leaders “as a matter of urgency”.
In addition to the rather remarkable fact that this amounts to the UK’s highest court declaring that the prime minister broke the law by suspending the democratic body during a time of acute crisis, it appears to mean that Parliament was never actually prorogued. If that’s the case, then MPs can meet whenever they want.
“Parliament has not been prorogued. This is the unanimous judgement of all 11 justices”, Lady Hale went on to say. “It is for Parliament… to decide what to do next”.
Johnson probably won’t resign even though he clearly should. Jeremy Corbyn advised him to “consider his position” on the heels of the ruling. Boris, Corbyn said, has demonstrated a “contempt for democracy and abuse of power”.
Downing Street says they’re “processing” the decision, which also includes this bit in the judgement document:
It is impossible for us to conclude on the evidence… that there was any reason – let alone a good reason – to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament for five weeks.
The pound jumped on the news, but given the amount of uncertainty still in play, one imagines any knee-jerk will be fleeting.