The court of session in Edinburgh has ruled that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament for five weeks is ‘unlawful’ – with MPs demanding an immediate recall.
A group of around 70 parliamentarians had appealed against a ruling by a judge at the court that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament is lawful after Judge Lord Doherty originally dismissed a challenge against the suspension.
He said it was for politicians and not the courts to decide, allowing Johnson to close down parliament early on Tuesday morning.
But three judges of the Inner House, the supreme civil court in Scotland, disagreed with Lord Doherty’s ruling.
The MPs had claimed that the prime minister wants to limit MPs’ scrutiny and their attempts to stop a no-deal Brexit.
Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the parliamentarians, claimed prorogation was unlawful in his closing arguments.
He said: “A decision to prorogue shuts down parliament. It is in those circumstances an attack on democracy.
“It is an attack on the balance of the constitution and therefore is unlawful.”
David Johnston QC, representing the UK government, had argued it was not for the courts to get involved in what was a political decision.
In his summary opinion Lord Brodie sided with campaigners. He wrote: “This was an egregious case of a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behaviour of public authorities.”
SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC, who was among the cross-party group of politicians that brought the action, tweeted: “All 3 judges in Scotland’s Highest court of appeal rule #prorogation #unlawful! #Cherrycase succeeds.
“Huge thanks to all our supporters & our fantastic legal team who have achieved the historic ruling that #prorogation is #unlawful #Cherrycase #Brexit.”
The UK government plans to appeal against the latest ruling to the Supreme Court – with a hearing expected on Tuesday.
In separate developments a judge is due to shortly deliver an explanation as to why in Gina Miller’s case in London he ruled in favour of the government, with the businesswoman vowing to fight on.
She said: “To give up now would be a dereliction of our responsibility. We need to protect our institutions.
“It is not right that they should be shut down or bullied, especially at this most momentous time in history.”