Watson joins legal challenge to block Johnson’s suspension of parliament

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Tom Watson has joined Gina Miller’s legal action against Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament alongside Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson and former Tory Prime Minister John Major.

In a statement the deputy leader said: “Proroguing parliament is an unprecedented affront to democracy. The rights and freedoms of our citizens have been vandalised. This is an abuse of power that can and should be stopped.”

He added: “I have taken advice on legislative solutions to challenge the prime minister’s action to stop us crashing out of the EU without a deal. I am in discussions with colleagues in other parties and a bill to achieve this outcome has been drafted.

“I will be joining the judicial review launched in the High Court by Gina Miller and supported by John Major as a claimant. I intend to assist the court from the perspective of an active legislator to ensure that there is sufficient time for members of all parties to consider and vote on the Bill.”

Miller has said that there is no convention or precedent for Johnson’s suspension of parliament, countering Number 10’s claims that prorogation is simply business as usual – a bid to kickstart a fresh legislative agenda. Upon returning from his surprise trip to Balmoral, Jacob Rees-Mogg dismissed claims that the Prime Minister was trying to avoid parliamentary scrutiny and described prorogation as the “normal functioning of our constitution.” However, in the past four decades parliament has never been suspended for more than three weeks.

Miller, who successfully forced parliament to pass legislation to trigger Article 50 in 2017, will argue that Johnson’s extended prorogation is an unconstitutional attempt by the executive to bypass parliamentary sovereignty.

Miller’s judicial review of Johnson’s suspension of parliament will be heard at the High Court in London on September 5th.

Update: Labour’s Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti has been given permission to intervene in the judicial review against Johnson’s prorogation of parliament. “I am grateful to the High Court for granting me permission to intervene in these important proceedings on behalf of the official opposition,” Chakrabarti said.

She added: “Parliamentary sovereignty remains the foremost and overarching principle of our Constitution. Whatever far-right play-book Number 10 may be copying from, the abusive shutdown of our legislature won’t wash under United Kingdom constitutional law.”

Below is the full text of Watson’s statement:

Proroguing parliament is an unprecedented affront to democracy. The rights and freedoms of our citizens have been vandalised. This is an abuse of power that can and should be stopped.

I have taken advice on legislative solutions to challenge the Prime Minister’s action to stop us crashing out of the EU without a deal. I am in discussions with colleagues in other parties and a bill to achieve this outcome has been drafted.

I will be joining the judicial review launched in the High Court by Gina Miller and supported by John Major as a claimant. I will be represented by Mishcon de Reya, Tom Hickman and David Pannick QC. I intend to assist the court from the perspective of an active legislator to ensure that there is sufficient time for members of all parties to consider and vote on the bill.

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