Brexit: Court Begins Legal Bid To Prevent Boris Johnson's Government Shutdown

13 August 2019, 12:41

Boris Johnson has refused to rule out suspending parliament
Boris Johnson has refused to rule out suspending parliament. Picture: PA

Lord Doherty says that a full hearing will take place on 6 September.

A legal challenge that would prevent Boris Johnson suspending parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit will be heard in court before the 31 October deadline.

More than 70 MPs and Peers are backing the bid, which would make it "unlawful and unconstitutional" for the Prime Minister to prorogue parliament and force the UK to leave the EU without a deal in place.

MPs including Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson and SNP MP Joanna Cherry have shown their support for the case.

It has been suggested that in order to achieve a no deal Brexit, Johnson could decide to close parliament in the run up to the deadline. He would require the permission of the Queen to do so.

During his leadership campaign, Johnson refused to deny that he would close parliament, and said that he "would not take anything off the table". He continued that the UK government would "weaken its own position" if it negotiated with EU leaders.

Lord Doherty agreed to hear arguments from both sides in September, with a decision being reached before the Brexit deadline. He has fast-tracked the case with an early date for the full hearing.

However, despite requests from petitioners, he refused to not heard the case in the Outer House of the Court of Session in order to speed up the process. Some petitioners now fear that they may run out of time before 31 October.

The case has begun at the Scottish court of session
The case has begun at the Scottish court of session. Picture: PA

Mr Johnson has repeatedly pledged to be the Prime Minister to deliver Brexit by the deadline on 31 October, and has not ruled out suspending parliament to do so. With a majority of MPs opposed to the UK leaving the EU without a deal, Johnson has suggested he would be willing to bypass MPs in order to achieve a no deal Brexit.

Many of the pro-EU MPs who are bringing backing the case are the same MPs who won the case at the European Court of Justice to allow the UK to evoke Article 50 at any time and remain in the EU without the permission of the other 27 member states.

The cross-party group of MPs and peers are backed by the Good Law Project.

Director Jolyon Maugham QC, argued "a man with no mandate seeks to cancel parliament for fear it will stop him inflicting on an unwilling public an outcome they did not vote for and do not want."

"That's certainly not democracy and I expect our courts to say it's not the law."

The Commons Speaker John Bercow has said the parliamentary session ending in order to force through a no-deal Brexit is "simply not going to happen" and that that was "so blindingly obvious it almost doesn't need to be stated".