UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s controversial decision to suspend (or “prorogue,” to use the correct term) Parliament until just two weeks before the Halloween deadline for Brexit might have been compromised by a ruling from Scotland’s highest civil court. At least, that’s what the opposition parties are saying.
The judges declared: “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.” The case was brought by a group of 75 MPs from different parties.
One of the Scottish judges described the suspension as an “egregious case of a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behaviour of public authorities.” The court’s full decision will be published on Friday the 13th, which the superstitious might view as an unlucky coincidence.
But the immediate practical effects of the ruling are unclear. The UK’s Supreme Court will hear the government’s appeal next week in London, which means Parliament may remain suspended at least until then. For MPs to return before that, the government would have to reconvene Parliament, effectively ending the suspension before the Supreme Court rules. This is unlikely. A government spokesman said: “The UK government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing Parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this.”