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Supreme Court rules that prorogation of parliament was unlawful

Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court - Image credit: Supreme Court

Supreme Court rules that prorogation of parliament was unlawful

The Supreme Court has ruled that the prorogation of parliament was unlawful because it was for the purpose of preventing MPs from scrutinising Brexit legislation.

Supreme Court president Lady Hale said that the suspension of parliament had had an “extreme effect” on the fundamentals of democracy.

She said parliament had a right to a voice in how Brexit comes about and that the reasons given for proroguing parliament did not explain why it was necessary to suspend it for five weeks rather than the four to six days that was normal before a Queen’s speech.

Lady Hale said: “The court is bound to conclude, therefore, that the decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.”

The court ruling went further and the justices ruled unanimously that prorogation had not happened at all because the advice given to the Queen was wrong.

Lady Hale said that the advice to the Queen was “unlawful, void and of no effect” and therefore the order made as a consequence was also “unlawful, void and of no effect” and so the prorogation was “void and of no effect”.

She added: “Parliament has not been prorogued. This was unanimous decision of all 11 justices.”

Hale said that when the Royal Commission walked into the House of Lords to prorogue parliament, it was as if they were carrying a “blank sheet of paper”.

The decision by the Supreme Court upholds the ruling by the Court of Session in Edinburgh that the prorogation of parliament was unlawful and overturns a ruling by the High Court in London that it wasn’t.

Commenting on the result, SNP MP Joanna Cherry, who had led the case in the Court of Session, said: “This is a huge victory for the rule of law and for democracy and it’s very much in keeping that neither the government nor indeed the monarch are above the law.”

Following the court judgment there have been calls for Boris Johnson to resign as prime minister.

Cherry said that Johnson’s position was “untenable” and he should “do the decent thing” and resign.

Steps are now being taken to organise for the UK parliament to begin sitting.

Lady Hale said that it “wasn’t clear that any steps need to be taken by the Prime Minister” as a result of the ruling.

Speaker John Bercow said: “As the embodiment of our parliamentary democracy, the House of Commons must convene without delay.

“To this end, I will now consult the party leaders as a matter of urgency.”

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