UK Politics: Government awaits Supreme Court ruling on legality of parliament suspension

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The Supreme Court will this week make its ruling on whether the decision to prorogue parliament for an unusually long period of five weeks was lawful. Tradefair brings you the latest from UK politics...

"This is one of several global concerns that have been weighing on stock markets recently, along with the US-China trade war and the flagging eurozone economy."

The UK's Supreme Court will this week deliver its verdict on the current suspension of parliament - specifically whether the government acted lawfully when it decided earlier this month to prorogue parliament until October 14th.

This unusually lengthy suspension - which is due to end less than three weeks before the current Brexit deadline of October 31 - prompted controversy and criticism that the government was trying to avoid parliamentary scrutiny of its plans to take the UK out of the European Union.

Lawyers representing the government have argued that prorogation is a purely political issue, and not a matter for the courts.

An abuse of power?

The three-day hearing at the Supreme Court was concerned with two contradictory appeals regarding the suspension of parliament.

Businesswoman and anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller was challenging an earlier court ruling that the prorogation was lawful, while the government was mounting its own challenge against a ruling from the Scottish courts that the prime minister's decision was unlawful.

Lawyers representing Ms Miller claimed that no prime minister had "abused his powers in the manner which we allege in at least the last 50 years".

However, the opposing legal team argued the Supreme Court was simply "not equipped to decide what is a legitimate political consideration and what is an illegitimate political consideration".

In some of the most colourful language used over the course of the hearing, Aidan O'Neill QC, who was representing the Scottish court ruling, characterised the situation as "the mother of parliaments being shut down by the father of lies".

"Rather than allowing lies to triumph, listen to the angels of your better nature," he beseeched the 11 Supreme Court justices.

The court's decision is expected early this week. If it rules the suspension was unlawful, it could lead to parliament being recalled, or the prime minister could be forced to go back to the Queen to request another prorogation.

Govt takes a 'wait and see' approach

The government has said it will abide by any ruling made by the Supreme Court, but will wait to examine the precise details of the decision before committing to its next course of action.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show the government was "confident" in its position, adding: "There are different permutations as to what the Supreme Court may or may not decide."

"Later in the week we'll obviously want to look at that very carefully, but I can reassure you of course we are going to abide by a Supreme Court judgement," he said.

Mr Raab also stressed he was "keen not to take levers off the table that weaken the position of the UK in Brussels".

Boris Johnson has said the potential of parliament blocking the UK's efforts to leave the European Union - by voting against a no-deal Brexit, for example - makes it more difficult for his negotiating team to reach an acceptable withdrawal agreement.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the length of the current suspension as "unprecedented" and said, should parliament be recalled, his party would oppose any attempt by the government to prorogue again.

For businesses, there remains a lot of uncertainty around whether the government can reach a new Brexit agreement by October 31st, or if it will attempt to find a way to take Britain out of the EU without a deal, rather than request another extension to the deadline.

This is one of several global concerns that have been weighing on stock markets recently, along with the US-China trade war and the flagging eurozone economy.

The FTSE 100 fell by up to 0.7% in early trading on Monday September 23rd, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index and the Shanghai Composite were also down on the day.


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