Boris Johnson can prorogue parliament, says Scottish judge in temporary ruling


A Scottish judge has temporarily rejected calls to block Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament, in a blow to anti-Brexit campaigners.

Lord Doherty said he would not rule definitively that the prime minister had the powers to ask the Queen to prorogue parliament despite claims during an emergency court hearing on Thursday that Johnson was acting illegally and in breach of the constitution.

He said: “I’m not satisfied that it has been demonstrated that there’s a need for an interim suspension or an interim interdict to be granted at this stage.

“I’m going to move the substantive hearing forward to Tuesday. Weighing consideration in the balance, it’s in the interest of justice that it proceeds sooner rather than later.”

Prorogation is the official term that marks the end of a parliamentary session. After being advised to do so by the prime minister, the Queen formally prorogues parliament. This takes the form of an announcement in the House of Lords on the Queen’s behalf. It is a speech, written by the government, which usually describes the bills that have been passed during that session and summarises what has been achieved.

It means that all work on existing legislation stops, and MPs and Lords stop sitting. Prorogation also automatically kills any bills, early day motions or questions to ministers going through parliament. 

Parliament can then be reopened a few days later with a fresh slate of legislation intentions, set out in a new Queen’s speech at the formal state opening of parliament.

The UK government also faces parallel legal actions by anti-Brexit campaigners in London and Belfast who are also attempting to block the suspension of parliament.

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A government spokeswoman said: “As we have set out, the government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda, and MPs are not prevented from scrutinising our withdrawal from the EU.

“We are glad the court found against the interdict – there was no good reason to seek one, given the full hearing is due to take place next week, and the process of bringing the session to an end will not start until the week commencing 9 September.”

Labour MP Ian Murray, who is backing the legal action, said: “This verdict means a full hearing has been fast-tracked to next week, which is now the most important week in modern British history.

“It is disappointing that we have to go to the courts to protect British democracy, but Boris Johnson’s attempt to silence the people’s representatives cannot go unchallenged. As well as this legal battle in the Court of Session, the campaign against a no-deal Brexit will also take place in the House of Commons.



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