News of the day: UK Supreme Court declares that Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was illegal

September 24, 2019 • 6:15 am

This news is just in, and I’ve asked Matthew Cobb, who’s “on the ground” in Manchester, to enlighten us. First, though, a media report from CNN (click on screenshot to read and to watch the video of head Justice Lady Hale declaring the decision, which was unanimous):

From Matthew Cobb:

The UK Supreme Court has defended parliamentary democracy by ruling unanimously that the prorogation of parliament was illegal, and therefore did not happen. “Parliament has not been prorogued” said Lady Hale, the chair of the 11-judge court. The decision was unexpected in its clarity, extent and unanimity. No legal commentator predicted this. The Speaker has said parliament must reconvene as soon as possible.

As to what will happen next, the government’s cunning plan of simply proroguing again will not wash – if they were to try this, the court would move rapidly, and probably punitively. If Johnson had an ounce of integrity, he would resign, as would his side-kicks. But I presume he will try and bluff it out. It is not clear what will happen next – there could be a vote of no confidence in the government on parliament’s return, although this would require a degree of clarity on the part of all the opposition parties that has not yet been seen. There could then be a caretake government to ask for an extension of Article 50 (though there is no guarantee that would be accorded by the EU), there could be an election, or another referendum, or both. Whatever the case, the Supreme Court has struck a mighty blow in favour of parliamentary democracy and against the potential dictatorship of the executive. That was the issue – not Brexit.

And Matthew sent this tweet of the hero, Lady Hale, wearing some animal jewelry, which I guess is her trademark. Be sure you click on each of the photos:

And the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office weighs in:

133 thoughts on “News of the day: UK Supreme Court declares that Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was illegal

  1. “There could then be a caretaker government to ask for an extension of Article 50…”

    There could have been a caretaker government months ago. The simple fact is that none of the opposition parties and defector MPs will get it together under Corbyn and Corbyn won’t shift. What amuses me is that the Remain camp put this as the greatest constitutional issue of our time and have the numbers in parliament to cut and shape the issue but won’t act because they’re vying for party political advantage. (I should add I voted leave and remain committed to that.)

    1. The problem is that the Remainers in parliament (and the leavers, to be fair) failed to stand up for their principles in the face of a disastrous referendum result.

      In a representative democracy, parliament is supposed to lead, not follow.

  2. A unanimous and strongly-worded judgement, upholding the principle that Parliament, not the Crown, is sovereign.

  3. This is an excellent result for democracy in the UK. I had expected such a result in general terms, but not a unanimous judgement in such strong unequivocal terms. The Supreme Court just stopped short of calling Boris a liar.

    Although I am against Brexit, this was not the issue. The issue was the right of parliament to hold the executive to account.

    It is now nearly one an a half hours since the judgement was read out, and the BBC has interviewed nearly everyone except Boris Johnson, who is hiding somewhere in the US just now. If he doesn’t resign soon, he’ll be forced out, and not a minute too soon – the man is a lying buffoon.

    1. Notice who they didn’t interview? Nigel Farage, or anyone else from the Brexit Party. They trotted out old has-been John Major (*) to have his say, but didn’t even mention what is now one of the four largest political parties in the UK. In fact, if one were to rely entirely upon the Brexit-Bashing Corporation’s coverage, or that of Channel 4, one would hardly even be aware that the party existed.

      (*) Utter hypocrisy on his part, given that when he was PM he himself prorogued Parliament in 1997 for the purpose of delaying a report on the “cash for questions” scandal.

      Did you notice that that BBC news-reader said “Sadly, he has not resigned”. “Sadly” – is that impartial reporting? The BBC’s bias is beyond belief.

      Also, did you notice that there was no mention of the other big Brexit-related news item of the day: that Arron Banks has been cleared by the National Crime Agency of any criminal offences in relation to that £8 million funding in the referendum campaign? Of course, the BBC will not report that, and neither will Channel 4. I doubt that C4 will apologize for the month-long hatchet job it did on him several months ago.

      1. the Brexit Party… one of the four largest political parties in the UK

        Well, they have the fourth largest share of the votes according to opinion polls. That doesn’t mean they are the fourth largest party. I would suspect the SNP is considerably larger.

        The certainly have the largest mouth and the second most lyingest liar in Nigel Farage.

  4. Possibly Johnson forgot to follow the Trump script – get control of the judicial before moving on into illegal moves?

    1. I’d like to believe that even a right-leaning SCOTUS would declare a similar move by Trump to be unlawful, though I have no idea of the US constitution in these matters. Most of what I read here concerns the first and second amendments 🙂

        1. Announcement coming from Speaker Pelosi at 5 pm Eastern today that there will be a special select committee on impeachment to investigate the Trump-Ukraine scandal. Also, Adam Schiff has announced that the whistle-blower will be testifying before the Intelligence Committees as early as this week.

          All the President’s whores and all the President’s men won’t be able to put Trumpty-Dumpty together again.

    2. That’s not possible in the UK. The prime minister does not nominate new judges for the supreme court. The process is as apolitical as possible given that the head of the judiciary (the Lord Chancellor) is a political appointment.

      Judges for the supreme court are selected based on experience and ability. It never ceases to amaze me that such appointments are political in the USA.

      1. Also of course, in the UK, judges (at any level) are never elected, nor are prosecutors or (so far as I am aware though I stand to be corrected) any other legal functionary.

        This tends to make them more impervious to public opinion or political considerations. I won’t try to argue the pros and cons here, just noting the fact.


  5. A great result for the rule of law and parliamentary democracy, but Brexiters are pushing back immediately. Although the judgment is clearly based on the facts and the principles of parliamentary sovereignty, they accuse the Supreme Court of being political ( and in response want to politicise it (!) by changing how it is constituted ( and employ the tired Nazi accusation of “Enemies of the People” (

    We live in dangerous times when malevolent actors look to enforce their own nefarious will as “the will of the people”.

    1. Yes, predictable and pathetic response from what, I strongly suspect, is now the minority position of leave. Anything that contradicts the incessant bullying of the leave campaign is somehow undemocratic.

      In reality the Supreme Court has, perhaps for the first time ever, shown in practice the effectiveness of the British Constitution, which is based on the separation of powers between legislature, executive, and judiciary. Up until now it’s been something you learn about in constitutional law, but only in theory. Now we know that it’s real!

      1. And, sure enough, Johnson disagrees with the Supreme Court of the land – no doubt he thinks he has a better grasp of the law and constitution than 11 Supreme Court judges!

        I strongly disagree with this decision of the Supreme Court. I have the upmost respect for our judiciary, I don’t think this was the right decision I think that the prorogation has been used for centuries without this kind of challenge…
        It is perfectly usual to have a queens speech that is what we want to do but more importantly let’s be in no doubt there are a lot of people who want to frustrate brexit. There are a lot of people who want to stop this country coming out of the Eu


        We are at that place where right-wingers want to bend and mould the laws to suit their agenda.

        1. By that logic, the US Supreme Court is perfectly correct and should not be challenged upon its interpretation of the Second Amendment – yet I have not seen many people here making that argument.

          As for bending and moulding the laws to suit their agenda, have you not been paying any attention to what John Bercow and the Remainer MPs in the Commons have been doing over the last few weeks? Their disregard for parliamentary procedure and convention is appalling – e.g. the bill to prevent a “no-deal” Brexit was rushed through the Commons in a matter of hours, and through the Lords in just two days. Normally it takes weeks or months to pass a new law, to allow for proper scrutiny and consideration – yet the Remainers have hi-jacked Parliament, even seizing control of the order paper, in order to get their own way. Bercow’s behaviour as Speaker is equally disgraceful; the Speaker is supposed to be an impartial referee of Parliamentary procedure:

          “The Speaker is the chief officer and highest authority of the House of Commons and must remain politically impartial at all times.”

          Yet Bercow has openly sided with the Remainers and has done everything he can to assist them by twisting Parliamentary rules and ignoring Parliamentary conventions.

          We have indeed suffered a coup here in the UK, but it is a coup of Parliament over the people, not a coup by the Government. In the 2017 General Election, both Conservative and Labour parties stood upon a manifesto pledge to honour the referendum result and bring about the UK’s departure from the EU – yet hundreds of MPs have broken their promises and betrayed their electorate by deciding that they know better.

          Note how these MPs are terrified of submitting themselves to the judgement of the British people: twice Boris Johnson has asked the Commons to agree to a general election (wow – what a dictator!), but each time they have refused. Of course, they know that if they did the majority of them would lose their seats as the voters expressed their disgust with them.

          1. By that logic, the US Supreme Court is perfectly correct and should not be challenged upon its interpretation of the Second Amendment – yet I have not seen many people here making that argument.

            The US Supreme Court decisions interpreting the Second Amendment — Heller v. District of Columbia and McDonald v. City of Chicago — are the law of the land and, as such, are beyond challenge except through reinterpretation by the Supreme Court itself or by amendment to the US constitution. Those decisions cannot be ignored by the lower courts, rejected by the executive branch, countermanded by act of congress, or disregarded by the people themselves.

            As Justice Robert Jackson said of the US Supreme Court: ““We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.”

          2. Trouble is that every effort has been made to try and do a deal with the EU, as promised by the leave campaign in the run up to the referendum, but nobody had taken the trouble to consider the implications of leaving, especially the Irish border. Once realisation had dawned MPs appreciated the economic, social, and political consequences of leaving and have, very properly, sought to mitigate the damage that the fervent Brexiters appear to wish on the country. I’ve yet to see a single sound argument for leaving, and certainly for leaving without a deal.

            1. Yes Geoff, that is putting it very precisely and succinctly.
              As yet, there is not “a single sound argument for leaving, and certainly for leaving without a deal”.
              One can hardly improve on that.

          3. the bill to prevent a “no-deal” Brexit was rushed through the Commons in a matter of hours, and through the Lords in just two days. Normally it takes weeks or months to pass a new law, to allow for proper scrutiny and consideration

            They had to rush the bill through, since Boris had unlawfully prorogued parliament precisely to prevent “proper scrutiny” of his no-deal Brexit.

            Note how these MPs are terrified of submitting themselves to the judgement of the British people: twice Boris Johnson has asked the Commons to agree to a general election (wow – what a dictator!), but each time they have refused.

            No, they cleverly avoided falling into Boris’s trap. If they had agreed to a general election at that point, Boris would have been able to delay the election until after 31 October, and in the meantime we would have crashed out of the EU with no deal. Now I expect there will be a vote of no confidence in the current government, followed by a caretaker government until the general election is held. The caretaker government will get an extension from the EU, and the new parliament will then decide the future of Brexit, one way or the other.

            Have a look at Brexit What Next, to get an idea of the likely outcome.

        2. “..let’s be in no doubt there are a lot of people who want to frustrate brexit. There are a lot of people who want to stop this country coming out of the Eu”.
          Mr Johnson is talking the truth there, a lot of people indeed, probably a majority by now.

    2. “An Enemy of the People” was the title of an Ibsen play before Der Stürmer got its grubby hands on it. (Leave it to the Nazis to fuck up everything.) There’s a fella on this side of the Atlantic who uses it to describe the press, though his name escapes me at the moment.

  6. I’ve been watching politics in Britain for almost 40 years, and this is a remarkable day. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say this is Britain’s Marbury vs Madison moment.

    1. “I’ve been watching politics in Britain for almost 40 years, and this is a remarkable day. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say this is Britain’s Marbury vs Madison moment.”

      This decision by the U.K. Supreme Court has prompted me to learn more about it. At the Court’s website there is a FAQ section. One question and answer is this.

      Can the UKSC overrule the UK Parliament?

      No. Unlike some Supreme Courts in other parts of the world, the UK Supreme Court does not have the power to ‘strike down’ legislation passed by the UK Parliament. It is the Court’s role to interpret the law and develop it where necessary, rather than formulate public policy.


      Based on this, it appears to me that the ruling is not a Marbury vs. Madison moment, a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court (1803) that established the right of the Supreme Court to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional. Am I wrong?

      1. I would say you are correct. There is no constitution for them to pick over anyway. Apparently they simply decide on actions taken by government officials including the Executive. And they act far faster than our court for sure.

      2. Reading the decision, it appears that the Supreme Court did not (and does not have the power to) overrule any decision of Parliament. It ruled that the attempt to prorogue Parliament was imposed on Parliament from outside, and unjustifiably impaired Parliament’s ability to do its job.

        In effect it supports the power of Parliament rather than limiting it (as in the US case cited).


        1. “Time and again, in a series of cases since the 17th century, the courts have protected Parliamentary sovereignty from threats posed to it by the use of prerogative powers, and in doing so have demonstrated that prerogative powers are limited by the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty.”

          From the Court’s judgement 😎


      3. the UK Supreme Court does not have the power to ‘strike down’ legislation passed by the UK Parliament.

        But the action in question is one of the Government, not one of Parliament.

        1. And if Parliament disagrees with the action of the Government, it can get rid of the PM by passing the vote of no confidence and install a new one. Instead MPs are running to the Supreme Court to avoid political responsibility.

          1. As you know perfectly well, because it has been pointed out, Parliament closes 25 days before an election. So if Boris called an election for just after October 31st, it would leave him clear to do what he liked on Brexit. Just like his ploy of proroguing Parliament. Just another of Boris’s little tricks.

            You Brexiteers must think everyone else is stupid.


          2. Or to force the governing party to return – in a dog training analogy – to their own vomit.

  7. This season of brexit is the best yet! I was worried that making the comic relief the main protagonist would be a risky move but I’ll admit I was wrong. Hopefully they’ll stay true to their vision and not go all fan service on us now.

  8. As an expatriate Englishman, I’m surprised and delighted to see common sense prevail and to see that the Supreme Court has the will and authority to impose it.

    And I say this, not because Brexit is idiotic (though I think it is), but because Boris’s prorogation of Parliament was blatantly imposed for political reasons and to shut down democratic debate.


  9. One can hardly blame Johnson for giving up on Parliament doing anything but obstructing the public’s desire to leave the EU. The Labour Party has played a political game of total negativity just for the sake of opposition, the Lib Dems have always opposed Brexit, first guarding their embarrassment of opposing a democratic vote by demanding a second democratic vote, but now show their true colours by just saying they unconditionally oppose Brexit. Labour now puts forward the ludicrous position that they will negotiate a GOOD deal with Brussels (as if this is possible) but will then campaign AGAINST the deal that they strike. Johnson has twice offered to hold a general election which would decide how to go forward buy Parliament is afraid that people will vote Johnston back in by a landslide. Thus Parliament separates itself from any vestige of accepting a democratic decision on the issue.

    1. This whole comment simply concedes the point at issue; that the prorogation was done to escape parliamentary scrutiny. Thus, it was unlawful. The Supreme Court judgment is splendidly clear in its analysis of these issues.

      1. It was not “scrutiny” Parliament desired, it was the frustration both of the past democratic vote of the public and any further chance to validate that public desire by holding a democratic election.
        A Parliament afraid of the expressed will of the public any unwilling to put that will to a public vote can not to be called a democratic institution.

        1. Parliament would have agreed a deal to exit in March if it wasn’t for some extreme Tory right-wingers. Were they acting undemocratically? Were they frustrating the democratic vote?

          Do you understand that Parliament is sovereign? What do you take it to mean when we say something is sovereign?

          The point reinforced by this Supreme Court ruling is that in the United Kingdom Parliament is sovereign. I suggest any Leaver who doesn’t like that emigrates to another country with a different constitution.

            1. Excellent news! Since they are sovereign and the majority in the European Parliament and Commissioners want us to stay in the EU, they can just instruct us to stay. That would solve Brexit, and there would be nothing Parliament could do about it.

              Thanks for the tip, I’ll be sure to get on to this straight away. How come no-one had thought to do this before? Can’t believe everyone has been so daft. Three years turmoil, for nothing! Wait till everyone hears about this.

              1. Well, the problem is that the British are just not obedient enough and they chaff at being told what to do by foreign powers. And that is what the EU amounts to. Imagine America getting involved in some political union where Australians, Canadians and Brazilians dictated the law, and interpreted its implementation… along with setting rules on immigration, trade, and major elements of US foreign policy. The reaction would be total rebellion against loss of sovereignty.. and that’s what Brexit is.

                I suppose the problem is the British are far too much like Americans.

              2. A foreign power? Srsly? Britain is a member state in an organization they voluntarily joined.

                I assume you think the UK is a foreign power to Scotland, the United States is foreign to Kentucky, and the United Nations is a foreign power to all the members therein.

              3. Not a good argument GB given that Scotland, Wales and NI had to be given seriously devolved powers just to keep them in a Union. Britain joined a COMMON MARKET which somehow morphed into a federal union as part of “the European Project”. The EU has subsequently weaponized its monetary and trade policies to establish a “Hotel California” ( a you can check in but never leave situation/threat).

                As for Federal Union’s… the USA with common language, common history and common traditions has had one major Civil War, and even now seems separated into Red and Blue factions. Britain does NOT belong nor can it thrive in a Federal State run by … yes… foreigners. Doesn’t mean that Britain can’t be a good ally if independent? It has proven that it really can pretty well.

              4. “…which somehow morphed into a federal union…”

                A mysterious process by which the United Kingdom was the innocent victim of a great European invasion and had no part in defining. Or something.

                Come on, Howie.

              5. The UK voted to join a trading partnership – the Common Market- all subsequent chances to vote on the drive to federalization by the EU was denied to the British voting public, even though it was promised on party Manifestos. Some countries that did manage to vote on referenda concerning the EU’s movement to federalization (specifically Ireland, France, Netherlands, Denmark) rejected these moves (some vote results supposedly holding total veto power on the entire process) but then had their democratic decisions overturned by legal maneuverings by the EU. The European Project is not a democratic initiative in the least but is driven by a doctrinaire core of unelected, (dare I say it) elites. And the EU (sadly) is not a democratic and benign progressive enterprise at all. The appalling treatment of Greece is a perfect example of the reality of the total lack of any sense of European brotherhood.

        2. So any time an election is called, for whatever reason, parliament must grant it otherwise it’s no longer democratic?

          D’you understand that this is not a direct democracy? We vote in representatives who act on our behalf. And there are representatives for ME in there not just you and the people who voted leave. Those representatives are not there because of the referendum, they’re not there solely to act on the wishes of leave voters – instead they’re there because constituents voted them in.

          And if the interests of their constituents are best served by avoiding an election that would only exist to push through Johnson’s lunatic Brexit no-deal then that is what they will do. That is how this system works. You can stamp your feet as much as you want but parliament is there to represent all of us, not just leave voters.

        3. “A Parliament afraid of the expressed will of the public any unwilling to put that will to a public vote can not to be called a democratic institution.”

          You mean, a Parliament with a sizeable majority opposed to a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, who are not dumb enough to let Boris outmanouvre them by rigging the date of the election? *That* parliament?

          (I won’t even start on the idiocy of ‘the expressed will of the public’…)


    2. I fail to see how a non-binding referendum, won by only a few percentage points and surrounded by lies and obfuscation can possibly be construed as a democratic decision on something as monumental as Brexit.

      1. You and everybody else except those Brexiteers who are desperately anxious that one freak poll result should be the everlasting unbreakable ‘will of the people’…


  10. Yes!

    I don’t see why there can be granted a mulligan in golf and not a mulligan in something so important as the Brex-it question, when a vast number of no-voters have changed their minds and wish to stay in the EU.

    1. For the first time in 35 years of living in Scotland and not knowing the laws of golf, I now need to find out what they are.
      Sorry, but we’re onto the mulllllllligans (two “l”s for each retry, is it?) already. As if anyone were counting.
      One good thing has come out of this – the EU can add a small addendum to Article 50 for anyone else wanting to leave : “Whatever you do, don’t do what Britain did.”

    2. Really? How do you know that?

      So how come all the recent polls show that support for the Conservatives (who have promised to deliver Brexit) is far higher than support for the (il)Liberal (anti)Democrats (who have promised to cancel it)? Surely if vast numbers of voters had changed their minds they would all be planning to vote Lib Dem?

      (We can ignore the Labour Party here, as even they can’t decide what their position is now).

      1. No deal Brexit wasn’t on the menu, nor was there anything about leaving the EU but staying in the customs union, nor were any options for the Northern Ireland border offered (for obvious reasons — no one knew then what to do about it, no one knows now). But apart from that, yes, people did vote to somehow or other leave the EU and collect their 350 million per week for the NHS.

        1. “No deal” Brexit was on the menu just like every other form of leaving and people voted to LEAVE. What is being referred as the “no deal” is just the withdrawal agreement, a legal fiction dreamt up by the EU to keep the UK shackled to the common market. Before the 2016 referendum nobody talked about the withdrawal agreement, what Brexiteers were promising was a free trade agreement with the EU and that will happen, deal or “no deal”. To now push for another referendum with remain on the ballot is to blatantly disregard the will of the people. But what else can we expect of the anti-democratic EU luvvies? (see how people’s votes have been disregarded over the years in the Irish, French, Dutch, Greek referenda).

          1. “what Brexiteers were promising was a free trade agreement with the EU”

            This is simply untrue. And not once did anyone mention the possibility of no-deal – any Remain campaigners who raised it as a dangerous possibility were shouted down for being hysterical.

            And to talk about “what Brexiteers were promising”, as though there was some cohesive view on the subject rather than a hundred different ones, all of which contradicted one another, is utterly absurd. Michael Gove, had a different view from Farage, who had a different view from Daniel Hannan who had a different view from Banks, etc. and on and on…

            That’s precisely why we’re in this fucking mess; because the Brexiteers didn’t promise anything in particular.

            1. What do you mean it’s untrue? I can give you plenty of examples of Brexiteers arguing for a free trade agreement with the EU like the one Canada has.

              And, again, the possibility of “no deal” was not mentioned because “no deal” (meaning no withdrawal agreement) is a fiction of the EU. AIUI, there’s no requirement of the withdrawal agreement in Article 50. The only reason there’s a withdrawal agreement is because of the clever negotiating trap laid by the EU which the UK negotiators walked into as former May aide Gavin Barwell admits here:

              No wonder Brexiteers are angry when they see what a complete horlicks Remainers in the May government and the civil service made of the negotiations with the EU. And now Jeremy Corbyn and his coterie propose to negotiate yet another deal and then campaign against the deal they negotiated.

              1. So you can give examples, so what? How does a handful of examples you’ve cherry-picked from the campaign period constitute a promise that was made to the people of Britain, that the people somehow voted specifically for? There was no promise of that kind, there was simply leave or remain. Implying otherwise just makes you look evasive and dishonest.

                And if the Brexiteers in the Tory party are too intransigent to come up with a sane proposal for leaving, despite having had three years to do so, and despite May’s repeated, increasingly desperate attempts to appeal to that quaint old democratic idea of ‘compromise'(ever heard of it?), then perhaps it’s time for a rethink old boy.

                …And you can pretend no-deal is a ‘fiction’, whatever that means, but that’s just a semantic game you’re playing with yourself and yourself alone. Everyone else is perfectly aware that no-deal was not mentioned once in the campaign period because it was such a toxic and unthinkable hypothetical.

              2. I agree with you that there was no specific proposal for the future relationship that had all the Leavers united behind it. But that’s beyond the point. The referendum question was Leave vs Remain, not Leave with a commons market alignment or Leave with a Canada-plus free trade agreement, just Leave. And Leave won and it has to be implemented. Now, since there’s no consensus about how to leave, I am ok with having another referendum to decide that, eg. choosing between Leave with May’s withdrawal agreement and Leave without an agreement and then negotiate a trade deal.

                But Remainers can’t stop being sore losers. They keep trotting out old arguments about the “catastrophe” of “no-deal” when all this has been hashed out before the referendum (Project Fear) and people knew the risks of what they were voting for. They keep bleating that “circumstances have changed” and “people didn’t know what they were voting for”. When in 1975 the UK voted to join the common market people also didn’t know it would turn into a superstate and drain sovereignty from its member states. Was the public consulted about this? Like hell, they were. European treaties of Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice, Lisbon were pushed through without any regard for the public’s opinion. Well, now the people have voted and they want out. If circumstances change, we can ask people in 40 years’ time if they want to rejoin the EU.

                I don’t want to break the Rules(TM) by dominating the comments so will refrain from commenting further.

              3. Now, since there’s no consensus about how to leave, I am ok with having another referendum to decide that, eg. choosing between Leave with May’s withdrawal agreement and Leave without an agreement and then negotiate a trade deal.

                As a Remainer I would be fine with this too; obviously I would prefer for Remain to be one of the options, but your suggestion would at least be a democratic way of choosing how we exit the EU. At the moment the government is trying to railroad through an un-mandated no deal Brexit.

          2. what Brexiteers were promising was a free trade agreement with the EU

            Were they really? Well they were lying then. The EU isn’t going to give us a free trade deal without free movement of labour which is apparently a red line for Brexiteers. Your Brexiteers were promising snake oil.

            1. This is just wrong. Canada has a free trade agreement with the EU. Before Trump’s election the US was negotiating the TTIP, a free trade agreement with the EU. Neither requires free movement of labour.

              1. We are not Canada. We are not the USA. We are a country trying to leave the EU. The EU will not give us a deal that is better than the one we have already. They’ve stated that quite explicitly.

                By the way, our free trade deal with Canada will disappear on November 1st. Well done Brexiteers.

              2. The EU exports to the UK ten times more goods than to Canada. In fact, the UK has the largest share of EU exports, even ahead of the USA. The EU won’t cut their own nose to spite their face and will offer a trade deal. Indeed, on that famous slide ( presented by Michel Barnier, there’s a checkmark right next to the Canada-style free trade agreement.

                The only reason it hasn’t been sorted yet was the incompetence of our negotiators in the May government. I recommend this insightful article based on conversations with European officials:

                It outlines how incredulous the EU bureaucrats were at the mishandling of Brexit negotiations by their British counterparts. In fact, I am not surprised that staunch Remainers in the civil service and the May government (May was a Remainer herself) bungled Brexit. The civil service knows how to get rid of the policy it doesn’t like (watch some old episodes of Yes, Minister if you think otherwise).

              3. Apologies to our host. I thought the rule against dominating threads referred to a one-on-one argument (which is why I ended the argument with Saul Sorrell-Till) and did not prevent me from replying to other posters. I have now re-read Da Roolz and see that I was wrong (although, if I may add in my vindication, the number of my comments is under the 10% guideline).

                I think I can safely assume that the majority of this website’s readers are against Brexit and pro Remain. Since the issue of Brexit is orthogonal to atheism, I thought it would be helpful to provide an alternative point of view.

                In any case, roolz or no roolz, once told to shut it by the host, I will comply and bow out of this thread.

  11. Lady Hale, wearing some animal jewelry, which I guess is her trademark.

    I took it as being her persona as Clotho, the Fate who spins the thread of life.
    Ohh, Bercow has just instructed the Officers of the House to prepare for the RESUMPTION (his emphasis) of the business of the house. Which would include resuming consideration of the 18-odd bills which were in progress at the false end of session.
    Talk about spitting into the hot fat.

    1. Okay wrong thread, but, not knowing Boris at all I’m willing to wager he can out-think Dinesh any day. Except for when Dinesh is not deliberately full of BS. Then I suspect it would be about even.

      1. Dinesh is worse, in one way, since he is marketed as an intellectual and a scholar. Boris is worse in another way – he has real power – a large economy (for now) and a nuclear armed state, etc.

  12. A strong parliamentary democracy, an independent judiciary and an executive that cannot run roughshod – it’s on days like today when you realise how important these things are.
    The Mother of Parliaments – tested to her limits but the old gal seems to be doing just fine!

  13. I’m trying to think up a joke linking this with the Thomas Cook collapse.

    Don’t just prorogue it…….something

    Good job I’m not a stand-up.

    Note to non-Brits, the company’s slogan was “Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it”.

  14. The recent rise nationalist authoritarians in western democracies seems to be ebbing. The disastrous American experiment with Trump might serve as a warning to other countries – you do not want to duplicate this trainwreck in your own country.

  15. This is yet another example of how fanatical pro-EU remainers are undermining the unwritten constitution and political norms in the UK. There are important reasons why most legal commentators were not expecting this verdict: there’s been no legal precedent for the courts inserting themselves into parliamentary procedure. This is a legal power grab with the unelected judges arrogating new powers to themselves to restrict the exercise of the royal prerogative and constrain the Crown-in-Parliament (and yes, it’s the Crown-in-Parliament that is sovereign, not Parliament by itself). Unlike in the US, there is no separation of powers in the UK. Of course, the judiciary is independent but it is not a coequal branch. Relationship between the executive and the legislature is also different: the executive remains in power as long as it maintains the confidence of Parliament. If Parliament disagrees with the actions of the executive, it can pass a motion of no confidence and replace the Government with the one that commands its confidence. The fact that MPs did not do this and continue playing political games to avoid having a general election and facing the public demonstrates that this Parliament has been subverted by pro-EU MPs bent on thwarting the result of the 2016 referendum (betraying the party manifestos on which they were elected in 2017).

    1. “constrain the Crown-in-Parliament (and yes, it’s the Crown-in-Parliament that is sovereign, not Parliament by itself).”

      This is a completely meaningless technicality.

      1. It may be meaningless but the judges inserting themselves into the relationship between the executive and the legislature is new. In fact, the Supreme Court itself is barely ten years old, another of those constitutional monstrosities bequeathed by Tony Blair bent on aping the worst features of the US political system.

        1. Barely ten years old?? Outrageous.

          Although I’d be interested to know: what is the minimum period a court like that must have existed before it becomes legitimate?

        2. “the judges inserting themselves into the relationship between the executive and the legislature is new.”

          It isn’t new, it’s happened for centuries, as the judgement takes care to point out.

          Parliament passes laws, the courts interpret them, and if the executive breaks either statutory or common law, the courts can and will rule on it.


          1. “Parliament passes laws, the courts interpret them”. Exactly. If Parliament saw fit to pass a law removing the power to prorogue from the PM, they could do it. Then it would be the court’s job to interpret that law. But you can not have unelected judges inventing new laws out of thin cloth. If the power to prorogue is proper and lawful as it is considered to be until Parliament passes a law saying otherwise, it is not the job of judges to insert themselves and pass a retroactive judgement grabbing new powers for themselves.

            By the way, all the legal precedents cited in the judgement concerned the use of the royal prerogative to nullify a duly passed statute which has no bearing on the current situation. The judges invented a new legal principle which allows them to pronounce on inherently political matters of parliamentary proceedings. This was a clear break with constitutional practice. Instead of tamping down things, the judges decided to not let a crisis go to waste. That is why this ruling was a surprise to most legal commentators. That is why there are now calls for a written constitution given that thanks to the irresponsible behaviour of the politico-judicial elite we’re sliding into the American system anyway.

            1. I’ll go back to your original post –

              “This is yet another example of how fanatical pro-EU remainers are undermining the unwritten constitution and political norms in the UK.”

              Since when is it the ‘norm’ to prorogue Parliament for five weeks to prepare for the Queen’s Speech (as Bojo tried to do)? Sir John Major – a Conservative ex-Prime Minister, for the benefit of our American readers – testified to the Court that it normally takes 4-6 days.

              If anyone is trying to undermine political norms it’s Bojo, as the Court could clearly see.


              1. “it normally takes 4-6 days” – and he did prorogue for these 4-6 days, it’s just they were tacked on to the normal conference recess. But for the party conferences, Parliament was only losing a couple extra days under Boris’ prorogation. If he was such a norm-shattering PM, he could have prorogued with immediate effect and past October 31. In fact, under his prorogation Parliament had time to pass the Benn bill and also had time to pass any new deal emerging after the EU summit on October 17.

              2. Eli, either you don’t know or you’re blowing smoke again. A recess and prorogation are NOT THE SAME THING. Boris prorogued for five weeks, not 4-6 days as customary.

                A recess is decided on by vote in the respective House (Commons and Lords). A prorogation is imposed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, advice which she traditionally ‘accepts’ (whether she agrees with it or not); the House(s) have no say in it.

                The Court made clear the distinction in its judgement. I think this link should work:


  16. As poster #4 notes above, BoJo sloppily neglected to get control of the judiciary before making illegal executive moves. BoJo was also not paying attention to how the executive handles a recalcitrant legislative branch in Socialist Venezuela. If BoJo were as progressive as Sr. Maduro, he would not merely prorogue parliament; he would defy it, ignore its legislation, and then cook up an alternative parliament composed entirely of his partisans, including some of his family.

  17. I admit I called this one wrong. I was absolutely certain the supreme court was going to throw it out.

    One aspect of this that nobody has touched on yet is that Parliament has always been suspended for three weeks in October so that the political parties can have their annual conferences. We’ve had the Lib Dei conference and we’ve had the Labour conference. Normally we would be about to have the Conservative Party conference. But by his action of proroguing Parliament and then losing this case, BoJo has sabotaged it.

    1. The judgment did address the recess vs prorogation issue:

      This was not a normal prorogation in the run-up to a Queen’s Speech. It prevented Parliament from carrying out its constitutional role for five out of a possible eight weeks between the end of the summer recess and exit day on the 31st October. Parliament might have decided to go into recess for the party conferences during some of that period but, given the extraordinary situation in which the United Kingdom finds itself, its members might have thought that parliamentary scrutiny of government activity in the run-up to exit day was more important and declined to do so, or at least they might have curtailed the normal conference season recess because of that. Even if they had agreed to go into recess for the usual three-week period, they would still have been able to perform their function of holding the government to account [through committee work]. Prorogation means that they cannot do that. (para 56)

    1. So every time an election is called for everyone in parliament must accede to the request? Even if its sole purpose is to push through a form of Brexit that no-one voted for?

      My representatives are in parliament. They represent me and other remainers. There is no onus on my representatives to bend to this goonish PM’s requests simply because he makes them. If the interests of 48%(possibly more) of the country are best served by not agreeing to an election that would quite probably push through a no-deal Brexit then they will not agree.

      This referendum has confused a lot of people like you. You now seem to think every decision is directly democratic, like the one-off referendum was, and you merely have to stamp your feet and say ‘we want this’ and something will happen.
      That’s not how representative democracies work. And it’s a good thing too, because the vast majority of the people in Britain(and every other country on earth do not have anything like the intellectual or educational resources to make effective judgements on issues like this.

    2. The Opposition refused to grant a General Election because – among other things – the wily Boris could then have set the election date so as to shut down Parliament for many weeks during the run-up to ‘Brexit day’, thereby leaving him free of scrutiny.

      Conventionally, a Prime Minister would take care not to do that but then Boris has shown his respect for convention. The collected opposition weren’t dumb enough to fall for his trap.

      We’ve got a cowboy in No 10, just like his great mate in Washington.


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