Scottish Court Rules Prorogation Unlawful
The Scottish Court of appeal has unanimously decided that Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament for five weeks (10/9/19 to 14/10/19), ostensibly to allow his government time to prepare the Queen’s speech for the next session of parliament, is unlawful, reversing the decision of a lower court. The court issued a summary statement which ended: “Accordingly, the court will make an order declaring that the prime minister’s advice to HM the Queen and the prorogation which followed thereon was unlawful and is thus null and of no effect.”
On the face of it, that ought to be enough to force Johnson to resume the parliamentary session, but the original action in the lower court and a similar one in an English court both led to judgments that the decision was not justiciable as it was political in nature. The government is to appeal the Scottish appeal court’s decison to the UK’s Supreme Court which is likely to make a decision as early as next Tuesday.
Only the most loyal of the PM’s Brexit supporters have swallowed the idea that he actually needed five weeks to prepare a Queen’s speech (the time does include the period dedicated to party political conferences, but that is not the point). The obvious elephant in the room is that prorogation is being used as a ploy to restrict the amount of time available to MPs to scrutinise the government’s Brexit plans or to (fully) unmask the fact that the government intends to crash out of the EU without a deal. Plainly, the Royal Prerogative, under which Johnson advised the Queen to prorogue parliament, was not meant to enable a PM to avoid the scrutiny of the Commons – the question is only if a court will declare it to be improper (as the Scottish court of appeal has).
The Queen is constitutionally bound to act upon the advice of her Prime Minister. If the Supreme Court upholds the Scottish court’s decision, it will be stating that Mr Johnson advised the Queen to act improperly. Should this be so, it is impossible to see how he could remain in office having, in effect, brought the monarch into disrepute.
Britain’s Brexit crisis just keeps getting deeper and deeper. The likely consequences of a “no deal” Brexit were released last night following a “Humble address” to the Queen requiring the government to publish it and other documents. The compliance with this instruction is another political storm in the making. The document itself was leaked earlier in the year and makes for grim reading. The report was titled “Operation Yellowhammer”.