Scottish appeal court judges have declared Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful.
The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the power to interfere in the prime minister’s political decision to prorogue parliament. Lawyers acting for 75 opposition MPs and peers argued Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament for five weeks was illegal and in breach of the constitution, as it was designed to stifle parliamentary debate and action on Brexit.
The judges failed to issue an interdict, or injunction, ordering the UK government to reconvene parliament, prompting a row over whether the decision meant MPs could go back to the House of Commons. The court issued an official summary of its decision declaring the prorogation order was “null and void”, but Carloway said the judges were deferring a final decision on an interdict to the UK supreme court, which will hold a three-day hearing next week.
Jolyon Maugham QC, the legal campaigner whose Good Law Project funded the legal action, said he and Aidan O’Neill QC, the group’s lawyer, believed this meant prorogation was suspended with immediate effect unless the UK government won a court order reinstating it.
The UK government will appeal at the UK supreme court against the latest ruling, which also contradicts a decision in Johnson’s favour by senior English judges last week. The UK supreme court has already scheduled an emergency hearing on both the Scottish and English cases for 17 September, alongside a third challenge brought in the courts in Belfast.