Boris Johnson’s prorogation declared ‘unlawful’ by Scotland’s highest court

Several weeks ago, Boris Johnson asked the Queen to authorize the prorogation of the British Parliament. To “prorogue” is to suspend Parliament without dissolving it – basically putting everyone and everything on hold. It was all part of Boris Johnson’s scheme to ram through a no-deal Brexit before the deadline, and without any further debate or deal-making. There was some conversation about whether the Queen should have greenlighted BoJo’s scheme – many monarchists insist that the Queen is not a political animal, and she is merely there to rubber stamp whatever the prime minister wants. Some other legal/constitutional scholars felt differently, and suggested that Her Majesty did have other options but chose not to pursue them.

The result of BoJo and Her Maj’s prorogation has been harsh. BoJo has taken loss after loss in the past two weeks, and there’s a very real possibility that the Conservative government will have to beg for a vote of no confidence in itself. The Queen was seen as a useless, expensive and undemocratic tool, and #AbolishtheMonarchy trended on Twitter for a while too. Not only that, but the “case” of prorogation went to the highest court in Scotland, and the court just said that BoJo’s prorogation is unlawful.

Three judges at Scotland’s highest court of appeal say the UK government’s decision to shut down Parliament is unlawful, the UK’s PA news agency reported on Wednesday. It is unclear whether the ruling means that the suspension — also known as prorogation — of Parliament will be reversed.

Scottish National Party member of Parliament Joanna Cherry QC, who was among the cross-party group of politicians who brought the action, tweeted: “All 3 judges in Scotland’s Highest court of appeal rule Prorogation unlawful!”

Boris Johnson’s government said the court’s decision was disappointing. A spokesperson 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.”

[From CNN]

Dr. Catherine Haddon is a senior fellow for the Institute for Government and she’s been tweeting about the ruling, with regards to BoJo’s request that the Queen greenlight the prorogue.

HM acts on the Advice of her PM. For a court to rule that advice was unlawful, even if the ruling is later rejected, opens up qs about how that advice is given. She has to be able to trust No.10

— Dr Catherine Haddon (@cath_haddon) September 11, 2019

My thought is… wow, it’s a bit convenient that Her Majesty looks like an innocent old lady who was lied to, or that Boris Johnson somehow misrepresented the legal nature of prorogation. Like, the outrage for BoJo’s scheme was there from the word GO. Everyone knew how controversial it was. Everyone knew that it was a giant scheme to push through the most devastating version of Brexit. The Queen’s advisors knew that. The Queen knew that. And she did it anyway. We can debate whether she really had a choice, but don’t argue that the Queen didn’t know exactly what she was doing or that BoJo misled her in some way.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid and Avalon Red.

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