Wednesday 23 October 2019

'We have to call an election' says Boris Johnson as he 'strongly disagrees with UK Supreme Court ruling

  • Court rules British PM Johnson acted unlawfully
  • Mr Johnson wants an election in the UK
  • Jeremy Corbyn wants Mr Johnson to resign
  • Court says parliament has not been prorogued and is set to come resume tomorrow
  • Boris Johnson 'strongly disagreed' with ruling
  • UK Prime Minister still hopeful of securing a Brexit deal before October 31
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the UN. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the UN. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the "we have to call an election" in the wake of the UK Supreme Court's ruling that his decision to shut down parliament in the run-up to Brexit was unlawful.

Leaving an event in New York - where Mr Johnson met Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today - the British PM made it clear he wanted an election to take place.

Mr Johnson told reporters "the obvious thing to do is to have an election".

Amid calls by UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for Mr Johnson to resign, the Conservative Party leader said "Jeremy Corbyn is talking out of the back of his neck and he should have an election".

Earlier today, a panel of 11 justices at the Supreme Court in London gave their decision on Tuesday in a ruling on the legality of the British Prime Minister's advice to Queen Elizabeth to prorogue parliament until October 14.

Parliament was suspended, or prorogued in the British jargon, from September 10 to October 14.

The prorogation was approved by Queen Elizabeth, Britain's politically neutral head of state, acting on the advice of the prime minister as she is required to do under the country's complex, uncodified constitution.

The judges, led by the court's president Lady Hale, heard appeals over three days arising out of legal challenges in England and Scotland - which produced different outcomes.

The panel held unanimously that Mr Johnson's advice to the Queen was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating parliament.

The court also found the prorogation and was also "void and of no effect" - meaning parliament has not been suspended.

Mr Johnson told reporters today: "Yes. Obviously this is a verdict that we will respect and we respect the judicial process. I have to say I strongly disagree with what the justices have found.

"I don't think that it's right. But we will go ahead and of course parliament will come back.

"I do think there's a good case for getting on with the Queen's Speech anyway and we'll do. But the important thing's that we get on and deliver Brexit on October the 31st. And it's clearly a… The claimants in this case are determined to try to frustrate that and to stop that.

"I think it'd be very unfortunate if parliament made that objective, which the people want delivered, more difficult. But we'll get on."

Mr Johnson continued to say that he has the "utmost respect" for the judiciary, while he said he is still very hopefully of getting a Brexit deal before October 31.

Announcing the result, 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."

Gina Miller speaks to the media outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Gina Miller speaks to the media outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The House of Commons is preparing to resume tomorrow, Speaker John Bercow has confirmed.

Mr Bercow said: "I welcome the Supreme Court’s judgment that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful.

"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."

Protesters celebrating outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Protesters celebrating outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on Boris Johnson on Tuesday to consider his position and call a new election after the ruling.

To huge cheers and chants of "Johnson out!", Corbyn said the British prime minister should become the shortest-ever serving leader and that Labour was ready to form a government.

"I invite Boris Johnson, in the historic words, to 'consider his position'," Corbyn told delegates at the Labour Party's annual conference in Brighton.

Mr Johnson will not resign in the wake of the ruling, a Downing Street source told the Press Association.

At the High Court in London, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and two other judges rejected a challenge against the Prime Minister's prorogation move by campaigner and businesswoman Gina Miller.

In a statement after the ruling, Ms Miller said that today was "not a win for any individual or cause".

"It is a win for parliamentary sovereignty, the separation of powers and independence of our British courts. Today's ruling confirms that we are a nation governed by the rule of the law - laws that everyone, even the prime minister, are subject to," she said.

"Do not let the government downplay the seriousness and significance of today's judgement. The judges have spoken unequivocally. For the second time in three years - my legal team and I have found ourselves with no choice but to appear before the Supreme Court to defend the sovereignty of parliament - to remind the government that they are not above the law.

"The UK deserves a prime minister and a government who act with honesty, integrity and in a manner consistent with our constitution, at all times."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at the United Nations headquarters in New York where he is attending the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at the United Nations headquarters in New York where he is attending the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

European Parliament Brexit Coordinator Guy Verhofstadt welcomed the decision and said "parliaments should never be silenced.

He said in a statement: "At least one big relief in the Brexit saga: the rule of law in the UK is alive & kicking. Parliaments should never be silenced in a real democracy.

"I never want to hear Boris Johnson or any other Brexiteer say again that the European Union is undemocratic."

Former UK prime minister Sir John Major said "I hope this ruling from the Supreme Court will deter any future Prime Minister from attempting to shut down Parliament", adding "no Prime Minister must ever treat the monarch or Parliament in this way again".

But in Scotland, a cross-party group of MPs and peers won a ruling from the Inner House of the Court of Session that Mr Johnson's prorogation decision was unlawful because it was "motivated by the improper purpose of stymieing parliament".

Mrs Miller's barrister Lord Pannick QC, told the court on Tuesday that Mr Johnson's motive for an "exceptionally long" prorogation was to "silence" Parliament, and that his decision was an "unlawful abuse of power".

Sir James Eadie QC argued on the Prime Minister's behalf on Wednesday that the suggestion the prorogation was intended to "stymie" parliament ahead of Brexit was "untenable".

The British Prime Minister advised the Queen on August 28 to prorogue Parliament for five weeks.

Mr Johnson claimed the five-week suspension was to allow the British government to set out a new legislative agenda in a Queen's Speech when MPs return to Parliament.

But those who brought the legal challenges argued the prorogation was designed to prevent parliamentary scrutiny of the UK's impending exit from the EU on October 31.

Reuters

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