Chief Editor: Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

UK Supreme Court to start hearing on Parliament suspension


Glasgow, United Kingdom  All eyes will be on Britain’s highest court on Tuesday when judges begin hearing arguments centred on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversial suspension of Parliament.

Last week, the prime minister prorogued parliament ahead of his government’s scheduled Queen’s Speech on October 14 – a highly ceremonial occasion in which the British monarch outlines the government’s legislative programme.

But critics have accused the Conservative leader of suspending parliament for five weeks in a bid to force through a “disastrous no-deal” withdrawal from the European Union.

The UK Supreme Court will have the final say on the legality of the prorogation, however, after judges in England and Scotland came to contrasting conclusions.

Last week, more than 70 British parliamentarians sensationally won their legal challenge in Scotland after three appeal judges sitting in Edinburgh declared the suspension unlawful, reversing the decision of an earlier sitting Scottish judge. This followed a verdict in the English High Court that threw out a similar challenge brought by prominent anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller.

“The Supreme Court will essentially determine whether it believes the prime minister behaved unlawfully – as the [Scottish appeal court] determined – in which case the most immediate impact will be on the reputation of the premier,” James Mitchell, a public policy professor at The University of Edinburgh, told.

“Such a ruling would feed the opposition parties’ narrative that has focused on charges of Johnson’s dishonesty… Parliament would have to be recalled in the event of such a court judgment.”

Ever since the UK voted to leave the European bloc in the 2016 in-out Brexit referendum – with the “leave” majorities in England and Wales negating the “remain” majorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland – political negotiations have floundered.

Following the resignation of EU-supporting British prime minister David Cameron, who fell on his sword in 2016 after losing the EU referendum he himself had called, his successor Theresa May saw her attempts to negotiate an exit deal repeatedly frustrated, resulting in her resignation earlier this year.

As 11 judges at the UK Supreme Court gear up to consider arguments for and against prorogation, Johnson’s career is on the line. Indeed, before last week’s suspension of Parliament, Johnson lost control of the House of Commons to the main opposition and Conservative rebels, who then passed a bill on Monday to block a “no-deal” Brexit by the scheduled EU departure date of October 31.

Despite this, Johnson continues to maintain that Britain will leave the EU by the end of next month, whatever happens. Voters across the UK will watch this week’s Supreme Court hearing with interest.

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