UK’s highest court says PM acted illegally when shutting down Parliament

World Today

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he departs from Hudson Yards, in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. In a major blow to Johnson, Britain’s highest court ruled Tuesday that his decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks in the crucial countdown to the country’s Brexit deadline was illegal. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Britain’s highest court has dealt a blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The justices unanimously ruled Johnson’s decision to shut down parliament in the run-up to Brexit – was unlawful.

CGTN’s Nawied Jabarkhyl reports.

Its chambers may be empty. But, the U.K.’s historic Parliament is still casting a shadow over Boris Johnson’s plans to take Britain out of the European Union.

As Johnson rubbed shoulders with world leaders in New York, here at home, the country’s highest court ruling the Prime Minister’s suspension of Parliament was illegal.

“The decision to advise her majesty to prorogue Parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification,” Supreme Court President Lady Hale said.

The decision was reached unanimously by the Supreme Court’s 11 judges- the maximum number that could hear a case like this.

The Prime Minister suspended parliament on the September 10, with lawmakers only set to return to work five weeks later.

Calling that move “null and void”, this latest ruling will allow politicians to return almost immediately.

“I have instructed the house authorities to prepare not for the recall – the prorogation was unlawful and is void – to prepare for the resumption of the business of the House of Commons. Specifically, I’ve instructed the house authorities to take such steps as are necessary to ensure that the House of Commons sits tomorrow,” Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow said.

The decision by the Supreme Court here in London is likely to add pressure on the Prime Minister, who’s already criticized Parliament for weakening his negotiating position with European leaders as he races against the clock to try and secure a Brexit deal.

Political tensions are already running very high in Westminster.

And this ruling is likely to increase the divisions here. More immediately though, it could mean Mr. Johnson has to cut short a trip to New York to deal with yet another crisis at home.

The Prime Minister said he “disagreed” with the ruling but that his government will “respect the judicial process.” Opposition lawmakers are already calling for him to resign.

There’s little indication from his camp that he’s willing to do so. But, the historic ruling is likely to serve as a reminder to the British leader that in UK politics, it’s Parliament that’s sovereign and that these Houses still have great power.