UK’s top court to rule on Johnson’s parliament suspension

Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament has bee criticised by the opposition. (AFP pic)

LONDON: Britain’s top court will rule on Tuesday whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament was unlawful, a judgment that could lead to the recall of the legislature and give lawmakers more chance to obstruct his Brexit plans.

Johnson advised Queen Elizabeth to prorogue, or suspend, parliament on Aug 28, a move his opponents said was made to stymie challenges to his promise to take Britain out of the European Union on Oct 31 with or without a divorce deal.

Johnson says the aim of the suspension – from Sept 10 until Oct 14 – was to allow him to bring in a new legislative agenda.

The Supreme Court said its 11 justices would hand down their judgment at 10.30am on Tuesday.

During three days of hearings last week, the Supreme Court was told by lawyers for anti-Brexit campaigners and opposition lawmakers that the five-week shutdown was the longest in 50 years.

Under Britain’s unwritten constitution, the power to suspend or dissolve parliament formally remains with the monarch, a politically impartial figure who acts in accordance with the advice of the prime minister.

The Supreme Court will have to decide if the issue is one that judges should even be involved in or if it was simply a political issue.

The High Court of England and Wales ruled earlier this month that the issue was indeed not “justiciable” but Scotland’s top court concluded Johnson had acted illegally and that the prorogation should be declared null and void.

If the top court agrees the suspension was illegal, it could say that Johnson should recall parliament or that as the prorogation was unlawful, the legislature could simply be reconvened by its speakers.

“As we have heard, it is not a simple question and we will now consider carefully all the arguments that have been presented to us,” Brenda Hale, the court’s president, said at the end of the hearings on Thursday.