Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE) -The highest court in the UK has ruled that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. Parliament will now be recalled.
The court ruled on whether the decision of the Prime Minister to advise Her Majesty the Queen to prorogue Parliament is justiciable in the courts; andIf the decision is justiciable, whether that advice was lawful.
On 28 August 2019, on the advice of the Prime Minister, Her Majesty the Queen made an Order in Council providing that Parliament be prorogued on a day no earlier than 9 September 2019 and no later than 12 September 2019, until Monday 14 October 2019. The Prime Minister issued a press release stating that the purpose of the prorogation was to introduce a new legislative program to Parliament at a Queen’s Speech to take place on 14 October 2019. Parliament was subsequently prorogued on 9 September 2019. The appellant issued proceedings for judicial review on the grounds that the Prime Minister’s decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament was an abuse of power and beyond the proper constitutional limits of the common law prerogative of prorogation.
In England and Wales the government won in the Court of Appeal,with the judgestaking the accepted line that the court could not interfere in political matters,but lost in the equivalent court in Scotland where it was held that it could. The Supreme Court has had the difficult task of reconciling these two decisions knowing that whatever they decide will be highly controversial in an area the courts have previously avoided and in the present excited atmosphere in British politics.
The government has said it will “abide by the ruling” of the Supreme Court.Mr Johnson – who is in New York for a UN climate conference – has refused to rule out seeking to prorogue Parliament for a second time despite the ruling going against him.
The decision of the court is itself not without controversy because it is not set up to formulate public policy, as this question and answer on the courts own website shows ‘Can the UKSC overrule the UK Parliament?’
‘’No. Unlike some Supreme Courts in other parts of the world, the UK Supreme Court does not have the power to 'strike down' legislation passed by the UK Parliament. It is the Court's role to interpret the law and develop it where necessary, rather than formulate public policy.’
Never the less this is what it appears to have done. Baroness Hale the President of the Court stated that the hearings have nothing to do with whether or not Brexit takes place but many Leave voters will feel that once again the goal posts have been moved to assist in blocking leaving on 31 October. By seeming to enter the debate on Brexit the court will inevitably come under political attack.