On 24 September 2019, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the Government’s suspension of Parliament was unlawful. The UK Supreme Court judgment can be found here.
Key points in the judgment include:
- Paragraph 52: to the question of whether the Prime Minister’s advice to the Queen concerning the suspension of Parliament was lawful, the Supreme Court was firmly of the opinion that the matter is justiciable. It is well established that the courts can rule on the extent of prerogative powers.
- Paragraph 61: it was impossible for the Supreme Court to conclude, on the evidence which had been put before it, that there was any reason – let alone a good reason – to advise the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks, from 9th or 12th September until 14th October. The UK Supreme Court cannot speculate, in the absence of further evidence, upon what such reasons might have been. It follows that the decision was unlawful.
- Paragraph 69: the UK Supreme Court is not precluded by article 9 of the Bill of Rights or by any wider Parliamentary privilege from considering the validity of the suspension itself. The logical approach to that question is to start at the beginning, with the advice that led to it. That advice was unlawful. It was outside the powers of the Prime Minister to give it. This means that it was null and of no effect. It led to the Order in Council which, being founded on unlawful advice, was likewise unlawful, null and of no effect and should be quashed. This led to the actual prorogation, which was as if the Commissioners had walked into Parliament with a blank piece of paper. It too was unlawful, null and of no effect.
- Paragraph 70: it follows that Parliament has not been suspended and that the UK Supreme Court should make declarations to that effect. It appears to the UK Supreme Court that, as Parliament is not prorogued, it is for Parliament to decide what to do next. There is no need for Parliament to be recalled under the Meeting of Parliament Act 1797. Nor has Parliament voted to adjourn or go into recess. Unless there is some Parliamentary rule to the contrary of which the UK Supreme Court is unaware, the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord Speaker can take immediate steps to enable each House to meet as soon as possible to decide upon a way forward. That would, of course, be a proceeding in Parliament which could not be called in question in any court.
Members of Parliament are due to return to the House of Commons 11:30am tomorrow (Wednesday). However, there will be no Prime Ministers Questions. Ministerial statements, and applications for urgent questions and emergency debates will be allowed.