Peston reveals Boris could prorogue Parliament AGAIN if court rules suspension illegal


Remainers have been battling the Government in the Supreme Court today as they attempt to force the Prime Minister to reconvene Parliament. Mr Johnson has suspended Parliament for five weeks, claiming the time off is needed so that fresh legislation can be brought before MPs in October.

However, critics have accused him of proroguing Parliament to stop MPs scrutinising the Government’s Brexit plan and have demanded the court rule on the Prime Minister’s actions.

During what ITV’s political editor described a “tense” exchange in the Supreme Court this afternoon, as uncertainty remained as to how Mr Johnson would respond if the court ruled he had acted unlawfully.

He wrote on Twitter: “Lord Keen for the PM says that if Supreme Court finds PM’s advice to queen to prorogue Parliament was unlawful, he will abide by the judgement.

“But he does not guarantee Johnson would ask the Queen to summon MPs and Lords back.

“All a bit tense.”

Giving a legal undertaking on behalf of Mr Johnson, the Advocate General for Scotland, Lord Keen QC, said the Prime Minister will “take the necessary steps”.

However, he refused to rule out the possibility Mr Johnson may advise the Queen to prorogue Parliament for a second time.

Lord Keen made the comments on Tuesday during an exchange with Lord Kerr, one of 11 justices hearing appeals arising out of two separate challenges in England and Scotland over the legality of the prorogation – which resulted in different outcomes.

When asked by Lord Kerr what would happen if the court rules that the prorogation was unlawful, and whether Parliament would be recalled, he replied: “It will be then for the Prime Minister to address the consequences of that declaration.”

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Lord Keen added: “I have given a very clear undertaking that the Prime Minister will respond by all necessary means to any declaration that the … prorogation was effected by any unlawful advice that he may have given.”

When Lord Kerr asked if it could be taken that the prorogation decision could not be made a second time, Lord Keen replied: “I’m not in a position to comment on that.

“That will have to be addressed by the decision maker.”

Lord Keen added: “If the court finds it was unlawful, the Prime Minister will take the necessary steps to comply with any declaration made by the court.”

Lord Keen was today presenting evidence as he challenged last week’s ruling of the Inner House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The court ruled last week that Mr Johnson’s advice to the Queen was unlawful because it was “motivated by the improper purpose of stymying Parliament”.

Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, said in the ruling: “The circumstances demonstrate that the true reason for the prorogation is to reduce the time available for parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit at a time when such scrutiny would appear to be a matter of considerable importance, given the issues at stake.”

That ruling, which was made following an appeal by a group including more than 70 parliamentarians led by SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC, overturned a previous decision that the suspension was lawful.

Lord Keen said the courts “must not cross the boundaries and intrude upon the business of Parliament”.

He also said the result of the prorogation was that Parliament would only lose “seven sitting days” because it would have been in recess for party conference season throughout most of the five weeks.

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Lord Keen added: “It is quite plain that the Inner House, in addressing this issue and deciding that it could impugn the decision of the Prime Minister, was proceeding upon a fundamental misconception about how Parliament works.”

The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on the legality of the Government’s prorogation on Thursday.



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