Blow to Boris Johnson as decision to suspend parliament declared unlawful

The Court of Session in Scotland on Wednesday declared the UK parliament’s prorogation by the Boris Johnson government amid Brexit rows unlawful, ruling that the move was motivated by the “improper purpose of stymying Parliament”.

The controversial prorogation until October 14 took effect in the early hours of Tuesday following criticism by House of Commons speaker John Bercow, among others. The UK Supreme Court is also due to hear a separate challenge to the prorogation next Tuesday.

Labour and other opposition parties had accused the Johnson government of proroguing parliament to avoid scrutiny of its approach to Brexit scheduled for October 31.

A UK government spokesperson said after the court ruling: “We are disappointed by today’s decision, and will appeal to the UK Supreme Court. The UK Government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing Parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this.”

A panel of three judges at the Court of Session ruled in favour of a cross-party group of politicians who challenged the prime minister’s move, overturning an earlier ruling from the same court last week that Johnson had not broken the law.

However, the ruling will not lead to the immediate reopening of parliament, despite demands from Labour, Scottish Nationalist Party and others, because it did not order the cancellation of the prorogation.

Judge Carloway said: “We are of the opinion that the advice given by the government to her majesty the Queen to prorogue parliament was unlawful and that the prorogation itself was unlawful”.

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

Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir 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”.