BORIS JOHNSON today told the Supreme Court to butt out of the extraordinary legal row over Brexit – as 11 judges launched a historic hearing into whether he misled the Queen.
The PM’s top QC insisted it was not for the highest court in the country to rule on whether he was right or wrong to suspend Parliament.
Lord Keen said the Supreme Court would be guilty of “intrusion” in ruling on something that was “political convention”.
And he stormed: “The courts are not to cross the boundaries and intrude upon the proceedings of Parliament.”
The salvo was backed by a written submission to the court from the PM and Lord Keen who defended the decision to ‘prorogue’ Parliament for five weeks until October 14.
They said it would be “constitutionally inappropriate” to intervene. “The courts have no jurisdiction to enforce political conventions,” Lord Keen wrote.
It came at the start of an unprecedented three-day Supreme Court hearing that senior Tories fear could even force Mr Johnson to QUIT if it rules he misled the Queen when asking to suspend Parliament.
The court is hearing appeals from two separate cases brought in England and Scotland against the suspension which threaten to shake Westminster to its foundations.
Campaigners claim he froze Parliament to try and force through a No Deal Brexit – and silence ‘Remainers’.
In an astonishing day…
- Lord Pannick QC – acting for ‘Remain’ campaigner Gina Miller – claimed no Prime Minister has “abused his powers in the manner we allege for at least the last 50 years.”
- Lord Keen for the Government insisted that Boris Johnson would abide by any ruling that he gave unlawful advice – but stopped short of saying he would recall MPs.
- Veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby was among a crowd of several hundred people massed outside the court – including anti-Brexit demonstrators and protesters dressed as the Incredible Hulk and Robocop.
- Internet ‘livestream’ coverage of the Supreme Court proceedings was accessed 4.4 million times yesterday morning – compared to the normal average of 20,000 times a month.
Supreme Court President Lady Hale had opened the proceedings by insisting the justices would ignore “political” issues – and focus on the legality of the decision to prorogue.
Boris Johnson and his Cabinet have insisted the decision to suspend Parliament was to provide a break that would pave the way for a Queen’s Speech on October 14 and a new domestic agenda.
But Lord Pannick yesterday accused the PM’s prime motive was “to silence Parliament … because he sees Parliament as an obstacle to the furtherance of his political aims”.
And he insisted the PM’s extended suspension of debate was carried out for “improper purpose” to “avoid the risk of Parliament undermining the policies of his executive”.
He also accused the PM of running scared by refusing to provide a written statement to the court defending his decision.
He said documents before the court and Mr Johnson’s public statements were “at best from the Prime Minister’s view ambiguous”.
Lord Pannick said: “The legal consequences of such a witness statement would have been, almost inevitably, an application to cross examine.
“The legal consequences would be that it would be a contempt of court, of course, for such a witness statement not to tell the truth.”
If this court finds that the advice of the Prime Minister was unlawful, the Prime Minister will take all necessary steps to comply with any declaration made by the court.
But Lord Keen hit back at correspondence between the Government and Gina Miller’s legal team had explained the reason for ‘prorogation’ – and included Cabinet papers.
And he insisted that Parliament had been suspended for clear political reasons three times in the past century – 1914, 1930 and 1948 – without any intervention from courts.
Documents released in the Scottish court case earlier this month revealed Boris Johnson’s chief adviser on legislative affairs, Nikki da Costa, had on August 15 spelt out a plan to suspend Parliament in the week beginning September 9.
Downing Street only revealed the move at the end of the month.
Referring to Ms Da Costa’s memo, Lord Keen pointed out that Parliament had only lost “seven sitting days” on top of the usual mini-holiday for party conference season.
And he said that Ms Da Costa’s note that it would be impossible to bring MPs back on October 7 because of the SNP’s annual meeting with members proved the Government had looked at ending ‘prorogation’ on an earlier date.
Lord Keen added that MPs were fully aware the House could be suspended because they tried to amend legislation in Northern Ireland to ensure MPs could sit throughout September and early October.
The QC – the PM’s Advocate General for Scotland – insisted the PM would “take all necessary steps to comply with any declaration” made by the court when it passes its judgement.
But he stopped short of saying whether the PM – the “decision maker” – would immediately recall MPs.
No Prime Minister has abused his powers in the manner that we allege in the last 50 years, that is back to the development of modern principles of judicial review.
And he refused to rule out the prospect of a second prorogation. Challenged by the justices, he said: “I’m not in a position to comment on that at all.”
Earlier yesterday, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland also declined to comment on the idea of a second prorogation.
But he contradicted Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab by insisting the Government had not found a ‘loophole’ anti-No Deal legislation MPs believe will force Mr Johnston to extend Brexit beyond October 31.
He told Sky: “It forces the British government to accept an extension if we are offered one.”
Several hundred people massed outside the hearing, including veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby, 40 anti-Brexit demonstrators chanting “save our democracy, stop the coup and a man dressed as Robocop.
Charlie Rome, 35, said: “Robocop, he stood for the rule of law in a kind of dystopian future where there was corruption rife across the police and the corporations. I think it’s quite fitting at this quite worrying juncture in our parliamentary democracy.”
MOST READ IN POLITICS
‘Remain’ campaigner Gina Miller left the courtroom to cheers – and boos – and was branded a “traitor” by pro-Brexit campaigners.
A single pro-Brexit supporter shouting “we voted to Leave” was ushered away from anti-Brexit protesters. As he walked away, the man shouted “we want our country back”.
The hearing continues today.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at [email protected] or call 0207 782 4368 . You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.