Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful, the Supreme Court has ruled.
Mr Johnson suspended – or prorogued – Parliament for five weeks earlier this month, saying it was to allow a Queen’s Speech to outline his new policies.
But the court said it was wrong to stop Parliament carrying out its duties in the run-up to the Brexit deadline on 31 October.
Downing Street said it was “currently processing the verdict”.
Delivering its conclusions, the Supreme Court’s president, Lady Hale, said: “The effect on the fundamentals of our democracy was extreme.”
She added: “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.”
Lady Hale said the unanimous decision of the 11 justices was that Parliament had not been prorogued – the decision was null and of no effect – and it was for the Speakers of the Commons and Lords to decide what to do next.
Commons Speaker John Bercow welcomed the ruling and said Parliament “must convene without delay”, adding that he would now consult party leaders “as a matter of urgency”.
The damage is done
Wow! This is legal, constitutional and political dynamite.
It is worth just taking a breath and considering that a prime minister of the United Kingdom has been found by the highest court in the land to have acted unlawfully in shutting down the sovereign body in our constitution, Parliament, at a time of national crisis.
The court may have fallen short of saying Boris Johnson had an improper motive of stymieing or frustrating parliamentary scrutiny, but the damage is done, he has been found to have acted unlawfully and stopped Parliament from doing its job without any legal justification.
And the court has quashed both his advice to the Queen and the Order in Council which officially suspended parliament.
That means Parliament was never prorogued and so we assume that MPs are free to re-enter the Commons.
This is the most dramatic example yet of independent judges through the mechanism of judicial review stopping the government in its tracks because what it has done, is unlawful.
Be you ever so mighty, the law is above you – even if you are the prime minister.
Unprecedented, extraordinary, ground breaking – it is difficult to overestimate the constitutional and political significance or today’s ruling.