Given the wider context, Downing Street might have thought twice before deciding today was the day to send Robert Buckland, the attorney general, out into the studios to promote a plan for longer jail sentences for people who break the law. But that is what he was doing on the Today programme when he refused to rule out Boris Johnson suspending parliament for a second time before the Brexit deadline on 31 October. Asked if it was even “remotely conceivable” that Johnson might suspend (prorogue, to use the technical term) parliament again (it is due to return on 14 October), Buckland did not say no. Instead he replied:
Well, you know – it feels in politics, Harold Wilson said a week is a long time in politics, it seems like an hour is a long time in politics at the moment. For me to sit here and imagine what might happen at the end of October, I think, is idle. What I do know is, if we are able to, we will have a Queen’s speech in mid-October, there will be debate during that time, and a vote as well, perhaps a series of votes.
In an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg yesterday, Johnson himself also refused to rule out suspending parliament again when asked directly to do so.
As Joe Moor, director of legislative affairs at Downing Street when Theresa May was prime minister, explained in an article in the Sunday Telegraph two days ago (paywall), if the government wins the supreme court case starting today, it would be possible for Johnson to suspend parliament again after it returns on 14 October, at least until 6 November. It would have to be sitting on those two days because of an amendment passed to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act, Moor explained.
All of which is why today’s supreme court hearing is so important.
Here is my colleague Owen Bowcott’s overnight preview story.
And here is his analysis of the issues at stake.
There is a live feed of the hearing, and so I will be covering it in detail. Undoubtedly, it is likely to be heavy going – the supreme court is not the Old Bailey, and if you are not interested in arcane points of constitutional law, it might be a day to tune into the Lib Dem conference instead – but this is a case that could reset the boundaries between parliament and the executive, and curtail or expand Johnson’s Brexit options, so it is clearly of the utmost importance.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet.
10.30am: The supreme court begins the three-day hearing to decide whether Boris Johnson’s lengthy suspension (prorogation, to use the technical term) of parliament was unlawful.
2.10pm: Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leaders, winds up her party conference with her keynote speech.
As usual, I will be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web, although I will mostly be focusing on the supreme court hearing. I plan to publish a summary when I wrap up.
You can read all the latest Guardian politics articles here. Here is the Politico Europe roundup of this morning’s political news. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’s top 10 must-reads.
If you want to follow me or contact me on Twitter, I’m on @AndrewSparrow.
I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.
If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter.