Boris Johnson’s Likely UK Supreme Court Defeat to Trigger ‘Constitutional Eruption’
The Brexit drama is now unfolding in the UK’s Supreme Court, which is scheduled to rule in the coming days on whether the prime minister’s decision to suspend parliament weeks before the 31 October deadline was unlawful.
Boris Johnson’s “do or die” Brexit plans are poised to suffer a blow on the floor of the Supreme Court, senior legal figures told The Guardian.
Johnson has put lawmakers on a five-week break from 9 September through 14 October; he said that this legislative session was one of the longest in history and that it had to end to clear the way for a new legislative programme.
In order to suspend parliament, Boris Johnson had to receive the Queen’s approval, which he did. Critics expressed concerns that the prime minister might in fact have sought to stymie the speedy passage of legislation and parliamentary scrutiny of his actions, and that he could have misled the Queen in advising her on the prorogation.
Anti-no deal campaigners have since launched legal challenges against Johnson in England and Scotland, and eleven Supreme Court justices are currently looking into whether the prorogation of parliament was lawful.
The verdict is likely to be against Johnson, some legal experts warn. “The dominant feeling among informed observers is that the government is on the ropes and it’s going to lose,” Professor Philippe Sands, a professor of law and Queen’s Counsel, told The Guardian.
According to the newspaper, there is widespread speculation in the UK’s legal community that the government will lose the case because 1) the judges spent much time looking into possible remedies, which they rarely do if the complaint is dismissed, 2) the court’s president, Lady Hale, appeared to be “dubious” about the arguments of the government’s lawyer, and 3) that the justices have yet to issue a verdict suggests that they are likely concerned about the consequences for the government, rather than the complainants.
The court was initially expected to deliver a ruling this week, but the decision is now expected to come early next week. One legal expert was quoted as saying that “the fact they (the court) haven’t given a decision now with reasons to follow would tend to suggest the government is going to lose at some level. If they were going to find for the government, why bother stringing it out?”
Another unnamed legal source, who also believed Boris Johnson would lose the legal battle, said a verdict against the prime minister would lead to a “constitutional eruption of volcanic proportions”.
Johnson promised earlier that he would “take the necessary steps” to abide by the ruling, even if he is forced to recall the MPs.
However, if the justices find against the government, it may be looking into whether it has the right to shut parliament for a second time.
Lord Keen QC, representing the government in the Supreme Court this week, refused to comment on such a possibility.