On Tuesday the 24th of September 2019, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled that the Government shut down parliament illegally and the advice given to the Queen by the Prime Minister, was unlawful.
As you will be aware, over the Summer, I and more than 70 other MPs took a case to the Scottish Court. On September 11 the Court of Session in Scotland unanimously ruled that the prorogation of Parliament from the 9th of September until the 14th of October was unlawful and our case was upheld. However, another similar case taken forward by Gina Miller in the London High Court unanimously dismissed the unlawful prorogation claim.
The Supreme court was therefore summoned for an emergency hearing outside of legal term-time to settle the matter – the first time this has ever happened.
Following the emergency three-day hearing last week, the Supreme Court unanimously declared this morning that “the Prime Minister’s advice to Her Majesty was unlawful, void and of no affect” when advising her to prorogue parliament. The court further stated that the advice given by the Prime Minister was outside of his powers.
The issue of whether the Prime Minister’s actions were justiciable and could be subjected to the scrutiny of the courts first had to be resolved. The court unanimously ruled that the Prime Minister’s decision to prorogue parliament was justiciable and could be scrutinised by Judges. Lady Hale said: “it is well established, and is accepted by counsel for the Prime Minister, that the courts can rule on the extent of prerogative power…that is what the court will be doing in this case…”
The Justices then had to rule whether the decision to suspend parliament was legal, the court concluded: “the Prime Minister’s advice to her Majesty was unlawful, void and of no effect. This means that the order in council to which it led was also unlawful, void and of no effect should be quashed.”
“The court is bound to conclude, therefore, that the decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue parliament was unlawful because it had the affect of frustrating or preventing the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.”
Lady Hale stated that it is now for “parliament, and in particular the Speaker and the Lord Speaker, to decide what to do next.”
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow has since confirmed that Parliament will be reconvened tomorrow, Wednesday 25th September.
While I am of course pleased that the Supreme Court has ruled so clearly and upheld our case, the seriousness of the situation can not be over stated. The Prime Minister of the UK has been found to have acted unlawfully and misled the Queen – this is not only constitutionally unprecedented, but also utterly unacceptable. Our country has always been held up as a beacon of democracy and a proud keeper of the rule of law. It is therefore unthinkable that we have a Prime Minister who has broken the law. His position is untenable and I share the view that he must now resign.
There will be calls for a vote of no confidence in the Government, but we must be careful that we do not accidentally allow a No Deal Brexit to occur as a consequence. As I have stated before, we need to be absolutely certain that we are out of the No Deal “danger zone”, before triggering a General Election. We have in place our Bill to demand the Prime Minister asks for an extension to Article 50 if a deal is not in place by 19th October, so the legal mandate is in place – but we must also ensure that that extension is in fact sought and confirmed before we can be certain we have dealt with No Deal risks.
I have been interviewed by BBC Look East, ITV Anglia for broadcast later today. I will post links to those interviews as soon as they have been aired.