BORIS Johnson’s lawyer has told the Supreme Court that the PM will ask the Queen to recall Parliament if he loses his Brexit battle.
Lord Keen said if Boris was found to be “unlawful” then No10 would take “all necessary steps to comply with any declaration made by the court.”
PM WILL ASK QUEEN TO RECALL MPs
The first hearing of the Brexit legal showdown took place in front of 11 justices at Britain’s highest court today – after judges in England and Scotland delivered differing decisions on whether the PM’s move was illegal.
The High Court in London dismissed a case brought by Remainer lawyer Gina Miller, and Tory grandee Sir John Major, that the shutdown was against the law.
But an appeal by 70 MPs and anti-Brexit activists achieved the opposite decision at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
This afternoon the Supreme Court heard from Lord Keen, the Advocate General for Scotland, who argued an appeal against the Scottish ruling.
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.
He also said the different conclusions reached by the courts did not arise from any difference between English and Scottish law.
Lord Keen QC told the Supreme Court: “Insofar as the Inner House has sought to declare the prorogation unlawful, I will take no issue with their order.
“But, insofar as they purport to declare that the prorogation is null and of no effect, I submit that they have simply gone where the court could not go.”
PM WANTED TO SILENCE MPs
Earlier today Lord Pannick, for Miller, claimed Boris tried to “evade” scrutiny and “silence” MPs over Brexit with his Parliament shutdown.
The top lawyer said the PM sought to “silence Parliament for that period because he sees Parliament as an obstacle in his political aims.”
He also said: “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.”
Adding that Boris’ move to suspend Parliament was “at least strongly influenced by the Prime Minister’s desire to prevent the risk, as he saw it, of Parliament damaging government policy.”
Lord Pannick suggested the shutdown was made because Parliament might want to keep a “close eye on the negotiations, if any” with the EU.
He added: “Parliament may wish to keep a close eye on planning for a No-Deal exit during the five weeks and, in the light of parliamentary scrutiny, Parliament may wish urgently to legislate during that period.
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.
“It may wish to impose further obligations on the Prime Minister in the period leading up to the EU Council meeting on October 17-18.
“The issues in these proceedings are very far from academic.”
While taking the PM to task over his dramatic move to stop MPs from sitting for five weeks – a decision that has to be approved by the Queen – Lord Pannick emphasised that he was “making no criticism of Her Majesty in these proceedings.
He said: “Her Majesty acted on the advice of her Prime Minister”.
Sir John Major joined forces with Miller last month and the ex-PM will give a speech to the court on Thursday.
Outside the court anti-Brexit crowds were heard chanting “Gina, Gina” in support of Miller as she arrived – while another protester appeared to mock the PM’s claim he was taking on the EU like the Incredible Hulk by wearing the comic book hero’s outfit with a blonde wig.
A single pro-Brexit supporter shouting “we voted to leave” has been ushered away from anti-Brexit protesters outside the court.
As he walked away, the man shouted “we want our country back” and “democracy deniers” at the crowd.
Opening the hearing today, which is being streamed live online, President of the Supreme Court justices Lady Hale said: “This is a serious and difficult question of law… the Supreme Court exists to decide such difficult questions… It is important to note that we are not concerned with the wider political issues”.
BORIS VS GINA
No10 claims the five-week suspension – or proroguing – is to allow the Government to set out a new legislative agenda in a Queen’s Speech when MPs return to Parliament on October 14.
But those who brought legal challenges against the Prime Minister’s decision argue the prorogation is designed to avoid parliamentary scrutiny over Brexit.
The Supreme Court, which will sit as a panel of 11 justices for only the second time in its 10-year history, must reconcile contradictory judgements issued by the English and Scottish courts.
The High Court in London dismissed the case brought by Miller – who previously brought a successful legal challenge against the Government over the triggering of the Article 50 – finding that the length of the prorogation was “purely political”.
Giving reasons for their ruling on September 11, three of the most senior judges in England and Wales said: “We concluded that the decision of the Prime Minister was not justiciable (capable of challenge). It is not a matter for the courts.”
But, on the same day, the Inner House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled that Boris’ decision was unlawful because “it was motivated by the improper purpose of stymying Parliament”.
Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, said: “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.”
This prompted a No10 source to suggest the Remainer group of 75MPs and peers who brought the legal challenge “chose the Scottish courts for a reason”.
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Victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord – who brought separate proceedings in Belfast, arguing that a no-deal Brexit would damage the Northern Ireland peace process – has also been given permission to intervene in the Supreme Court case.
In a statement ahead of the hearing, Miller said: “The precedent Mr Johnson will set – if this is allowed to stand – is terrifying: any prime minister trying to push through a policy that is unpopular in the House and in the country at large would from now on simply be able to resort to prorogation.
“No one could ever have envisaged it being used in this way: this is a classic power-grab.”
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