Tuesday 21 January 2020
News ID: 70341
Publish Date: 11 September 2019 - 20:43
EDINBURGH (AFP) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a fresh blow Wednesday when a Scottish court ruled that his controversial decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to Brexit was unlawful.
The government immediately appealed, with the case set to be heard in the Supreme Court next Tuesday, and parliament set to remain shut in the meantime.
Johnson says the decision to suspend -- or prorogue -- parliament until October 14 is a routine move allowing his government to launch a new legislative agenda.
But critics accuse him of trying to silence parliamentary opposition to his threat to leave the European Union on October 31 even if he has failed to agree divorce terms with Brussels.
If Johnson fails to secure a deal he insists the country will leave anyway, to the outrage of many MPs who believe a "no deal" exit would bring huge disruption.
After the legal ruling, the opposition Labour party demanded that Johnson urgently recall parliament, which was suspended for five weeks on Tuesday.
However, a government source told AFP that "nothing is changing" until the case was concluded.
The case, brought by 78 British lawmakers, was rejected by a Scottish lower court last week but was overturned Wednesday by the Inner House, Scotland's supreme  civil court.
It found that Johnson's advice to Queen Elizabeth II to prorogue parliament "was unlawful because it had the purpose of stymying parliament", a summary judgment said.
A British government spokesman said: "We are disappointed by today's decision, and will appeal to the UK Supreme Court.
"The UK government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this."
He noted a separate legal challenge to prorogation brought at the High Court in London last week had failed.
Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer welcomed the ruling, saying: "No one in their right mind believed Boris Johnson's reason for shutting down parliament.
"I urge the prime minister to immediately recall parliament so we can debate this judgment and decide what happens next."
Scotland's first minister, Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon, echoed his call.
"The immediate political implications are clear... parliament must be recalled immediately to allow the essential work of scrutiny to continue," she tweeted.

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