Rights campaigners hail Scottish court ruling on unlawful prorogation of UK Parliament

Written by Martin Banks on 12 September 2019 in News
News

A ruling on Wednesday that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversial suspension of the UK Parliament is unlawful was welcomed by Labour and citizen’s rights campaigners alike.
 

Pro-EU demonstrators outside the Court of Session in Edinburgh   | Press Association


But their delight was tempered by a warning that the ruling by Scotland’s highest civil court is likely to be overturned on appeal next week.
 
On Wednesday, a panel of three judges at the Court of Session found in favour of a cross-party group of politicians who were challenging the Prime Minister's move.
 
The Scottish judges said the Prime Minister was attempting to prevent the UK Parliament holding the government to account ahead of Brexit.


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The UK government said it will appeal against the ruling to the Supreme Court in London.

Shami Chakrabarti, Labour’s shadow Attorney General, was quick to react. She 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.”
 
A debate had been due in the UK Parliament on Wednesday on the “DeniedMyVote” campaign led by UK MP Lyn Brown but this fell by the wayside when Parliament was prorogued (suspended).

Commenting on the cancellation of the debate, Brown told this website,"This Tory Government has denied up to 2 million European citizens their votes and their voices. Now the Prime Minister has denied their voices yet again by proroguing Parliament, ensuring his government cannot be held to account for its callous betrayal of our European friends and neighbours who have, in some cases, been settled for decades.”

Further comment came from Roger Casale, a former Labour MP, who said the expectation is that the UK Government will win on appeal.

Even so, he told this website, "This has been a very bad day in court for Boris Johnson and the UK Government.”

Casale, of New Europeans, said, "The decision to shut down Parliament cannot be justified any more than the systematic exclusion of over 1 million EU citizens and Britons from the European elections earlier this year. Both cases reveal a contempt for democracy, human rights and the rule of law which is completely at odds with European and international norms and it is no surprise that the UK MP Joanna Cherry, who has led the case against prorogation, has also championed the DeniedMyVote campaign."

MPs in the UK are not scheduled to return to Parliament until 14 October, when there will be a Queen's Speech outlining Boris Johnson's legislative plans. The UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October.
 
Johnson has previously insisted that it was normal practice for a new government to prorogue Parliament, and that it was "nonsense" to suggest he was attempting to undermine democracy.
 
The expectation now is that a general election will be called soon in the UK although no decision on this has yet been taken.
 
On the possibility of an election, Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, said, “I can’t think of a more crucial election than the one we are about to fight. Do we go down the route of no deal with all the consequences for working people or do we rebuild our economy, our society and our communities?"
 
“It is an election that will define this country for a generation. Brexit will of course be a crucial issue at this election. We have to draw a line under the wasted years of Tory rule and failed negotiations, we will have to break the deadlock and clean up the mess left by the Tories,” added Starmer, who was speaking at TUC Congress on Wednesday.
 
Starmer told the conference, “A referendum is the only way to do so. And that is why Jeremy Corbyn was right to say at Congress yesterday that an incoming Labour government will commit to a referendum.”
 
He added, “And - of course - ‘remain’ should - and it will - be on the ballot paper, along with a credible option to leave. We need to ask the public whether they are prepared to leave on the terms on offer or whether they would prefer to remain.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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