Labour calls for immediate parliament recall as suspension ruled ‘unlawful’

Keir Starmer, Labour’s Brexit spokesperson, has called for parliament to be recalled after the suspension ordered by Boris Johnson was found by Scotland’s highest civil court to be “unlawful”.

A panel of three judges at the Court of Session has ruled in favour of a cross-party group of 75 politicians led by the SNP’s Joanna Cherry, and concluded that the suspension was motivated by a desire to “stymy parliament”.

The full judgment of the Scottish court will be released on Friday, before the UK Supreme Court sits on Tuesday for a full hearing over three days. The government has said it will appeal the decision made today.

Reacting to the news at the TUC congress this morning, Starmer said: “This is really important. The idea of shutting down parliament offended people across the country and then they felt they weren’t being told the truth.

“I am really pleased with the result. For the court to make a declaration like that on an issue like this is a huge thing for us. It vindicates everything we did last week.

“I think that what I need to do, and what others need to do, is to get back to parliament and open those doors and get back in, and get Boris Johnson back in parliament so we can hold him properly to account.”

Later, the Shadow Brexit Secretary told BBC News: “This is an incredibly powerful judgment. Normally, judges don’t go into this space… So I can only assume the evidence against Boris Johnson was overwhelming.”

No order has been given by the court to cancel the suspension, or ‘prorogation’, and it is currently unclear what happens next. MPs are supposed to return on October 14th, but they could sit again in the Commons sooner.

The implications for the Queen are also unclear so far. It would appear that in granting the suspension, she acted unlawfully. According to lawyer and writer David Allen Green, Boris Johnson is the first Prime Minister to have been found by a court to have misled a king or queen.

Shami Chakrabarti has also commented on the Scottish appeal court declaration that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament was unlawful.

Labour’s Shadow Attorney General said: “This ruling shows that, despite what Boris Johnson has spent his privileged life thinking, he is not above the law.

“Labour will not allow his elitist shutdown of parliament to enable him to dodge scrutiny and force through a disastrous no deal Brexit.”

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of Labour-affiliated transport union TSSA, has said Boris Johnson “should be in jail”. He added: “He’s broken the law, is not fit to hold office and along with this disgraceful government must be held to account.”

Unite’s Len McCluskey commented: “My advice to the Prime Minister is that he should steer clear of Scotland, otherwise he may find himself under citizens’ arrest.”

Update, September 12th: Valerie Vaz, shadow leader of the Commons, has written to her opposite number Jacob Rees-Mogg demanding that parliament be recalled without delay. Below is the full text of her letter.

Rt. Hon. Jacob Rees-Mogg MP
Leader of the House of Commons
House of Commons

I am writing following the ruling of the Scottish Inner House of the Court of Session on 11 September 2019. I am enclosing a copy of the summary of the Judgment from the official Judiciary of Scotland website (Encl.).

At paragraph 6 of the Judgment, it states that:

“All three First Division judges have decided that the Prime Minister’s advice to the HM the Queen is justiciable, that it was motivated by the improper purpose of stymying Parliament and that it, and what has followed from it, is unlawful”.

Paragraph 11 of the Judgment states that:

“The Court will accordingly make an Order declaring that the Prime Minister’s advice to HM the Queen and the prorogation which followed thereon was unlawful and is thus null and of no effect.”

Notwithstanding the Court’s view that prorogation is null and of no effect, I refer to Paragraph 8.11 of Erskine May and its footnotes which provide the precedent for the acceleration of the meeting of Parliament during prorogation, pursuant to the Meeting of Parliament Act 1797, as amended by the Meeting of Parliament Act 1870 and the Parliament (Elections and Meeting) Act 1943.

Therefore, in light of today’s Judgment that the Government misled HM the Queen and that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful and, null and of no effect, please confirm that Parliament will be recalled without delay.

I would be grateful for a response by midday on 12 September 2019.

Valerie Vaz MP

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