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October 20, 2019
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UK Parliament suspension battle continues in apex court

LONDON, UK: Supreme Court moves onto the second day of hearing appeals against the decisions by London High Court and Edinburgh’s Court of Session that contradict each other on rulings.

Eleven judges are to decide whether Boris Johnson’s prorogation advice given to the Queen was lawful.

The English High Court had ruled the prorogation “purely political” and therefore “not a matter” for the judiciary while the highest civil court of Scotland deemed prime minister guilty of proroguing the parliament “unlawfully”.

Most recent decision came on September 11 when the Court of Session Judges ruled “the prime minister was attempting to prevent parliament holding the government to account ahead of Brexit.”

The judges had unanimously agreed that PM Boris Johnson was motivated by the “improper purpose of stymieing Parliament”, and had effectively misled the Queen in advising her to suspend Parliament.

One of the judges, Lord Brodie said, “It was to be inferred that the principal reasons for the prorogation were to prevent or impede Parliament holding the executive to account and legislating with regard to Brexit, and to allow the executive to pursue a policy of a no-deal Brexit without further Parliamentary interference.”.

This decision has been challenged by the government in the apex court in hopes of overruling it while the Members of Parliament insist on resuming the sessions in wake of the sessions court ruling.

The government however insists on upholding the ruling by English High Court, while relying on SC to second the decision.

For now, MPs are not scheduled to return to parliament until October 14, when there will be a Queen’s Speech outlining PM’s legislative plans.

The United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on October 31.

What happened on day one?

Cross-party peer Lord Pannick QC argued on behalf of Businesswoman Gina Miller in her appeal against the English court’s ruling.

He said PM Johnson had suspended parliament to avoid the risk of MPs “frustrating or damaging” his Brexit plans though he recognized the right of the premier to prorogue parliament in order to present a Queen’s Speech.

“Exceptional length” of the suspension is “strong evidence the prime minister’s motive was to silence Parliament because he sees Parliament as an obstacle”, he insisted.

Later in the afternoon, Advocate General for Scotland Lord Keen QC defended the government against the Scottish court’s ruling which called the prorogation “unlawful”.

He gave references to previous prorogations of parliament including that of 1930 and 1948 which had “clearly been employed” when governments wanted to “pursue a particular political objective”, insisting that “they are entitled to do so.”

He argued that MPs had “adequate mechanisms” and opportunities to stop the government in its tracks by passing new laws citing that bill to block a no-deal Brexit was passed in just two days.

Lord Keen assured the apex court that if they upheld the Scottish ruling, the prime minister would take “all necessary steps” to comply.

He did not comment whether PM Johnson might try to prorogue parliament again.

President of the Supreme Court Lady Hale stressed the landmark case would have ‘no bearing’ on the timing of Brexit.

She said she along with her 10 colleagues would endeavour to address the “serious and difficult questions of law”, but would not determine “wider political questions” pertaining to the Brexit process.