Top UK court: Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was illegal

Court declares PM’s move to suspend Parliament for five weeks ‘void and of no effect’

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the Climate Action Summit in the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

In a major blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Britain’s highest court ruled Tuesday that his decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks in the crucial countdown to the country’s Brexit deadline was illegal.

The unanimous, strongly worded Supreme Court judgment declared Johnson’s order to suspend Parliament “void and of no effect.” The court found that Johnson’s suspension had the effect of limiting debate by lawmakers on Britain’s impending departure from the European Union in violation of Parliament’s constitutional role.

The landmark decision was quickly criticized by Johnson and prompted calls for him to quit from opposition leaders. The Conservative prime minister and Parliament have been at odds since he took power in July with the determination to take Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a divorce deal.

“I strongly disagree with this decision of the Supreme Court. I have the utmost respect for our judiciary, I don’t think this was the right decision,” Johnson said in New York, where he was attending the U.N. General Assembly. “I think that the prorogation (suspension of Parliament) has been used for centuries without this kind of challenge.”

RELATED: Brexit hard-liner Boris Johnson wins race to become UK’s next prime minister

Johnson did not rule out trying to suspend Parliament again.

“As the law currently stands, the U.K. leaves the EU on Oct. 31 come what may, but the exciting thing for us now is to get a good deal. And that is what we are working on,” Johnson said. “And to be honest, it is not made much easier by this kind of stuff in Parliament or in the courts.”

The harsh tone of the court’s decision, and the unanimous vote of 11 Supreme Court judges, led many to say that Johnson can’t carry on.

“His position is untenable and he should have the guts for once to do the decent thing and resign,” Scottish National Party legislator Joanna Cherry said outside court.

In this nation without a written constitution, the case marked a rare confrontation between the prime minister, the courts and Parliament over their rights and responsibilities. It revolved around whether Johnson acted lawfully when he advised Queen Elizabeth II to suspend Parliament for five weeks during a crucial time frame before the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline when Britain is scheduled to leave the 28-nation bloc.

READ MORE: Leaked UK memos warn of food, drug shortages in Brexit chaos

Supreme Court President Brenda Hale said the suspension “was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.”

She said the court’s decision means Parliament was never legally suspended and is technically still sitting. The decision Tuesday followed three days of hearings last week.

The court rejected the government’s assertions that the decision to suspend Parliament until Oct. 14 was routine and not related to Brexit. Government lawyers claimed that under Britain’s unwritten constitution, it was a matter for politicians, not courts, to decide.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: Undercover video shows alleged animal abuse at Abbotsford egg farm

One employee wearing logo of Chilliwack chicken-catching company already facing abuse charges

Speed carving event on Friday and Saturday in Memorial Park

Organizers are keeping event small, physically distanced and stocked with sanitizer

Mission man who nearly died from COVID-19 at Abbotsford hospital reflects on one-month battle

Robert Billyard was in an induced coma to ensure his body would not fight the ventilator to breathe

Weekend food truck fest, fire department demo a success for cash-strapped Sunshine Valley fire department

BC Day long weekend event included vehicle extrication demo, food trucks, firefighting games for kids

Lavender hand sanitizer sale raises cash for Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Golf course and lavender farm partner up to support health care in the Fraser Valley

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

PHOTOS/VIDEO: Wings and Wheels set for weekend lift-off in Abbotsford

Fundraiser to raise money for Crystal Gala Foundation and the fight against breast cancer

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Most Read