Court documents reveal exactly when Boris Johnson agreed to prorogation

PUBLISHED: 19:12 03 September 2019 | UPDATED: 19:12 03 September 2019

QC Aidan O'Neill is representing parliamentarians in a case against the government over the prorogation of parliament. Picture: PA

QC Aidan O'Neill is representing parliamentarians in a case against the government over the prorogation of parliament. Picture: PA

PA

Boris Johnson committed to his controversial prorogation of parliament two weeks before announcing it to the public, court documents have shown.

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Johnson agreed to a query he was sent on August 15 advising that the House of Commons should be prorogued from September 9.

The next day, reports the Guardian, he sent a handwritten note to his advisor Nikki Da Costa saying: "Whole September session [at Westminster] is a rigmarole introduced to show the public that MPs are earning their crust. I don't see anything especially shocking about this prorogation."

It was only on August 28 that Johnson announced the suspension of parliament, just after Number 10 had denied it would happen "in order to stop MPs debating Brexit".

On August 25, a Number 10 spokesperson had said: "the claim that the government is considering proroguing parliament in September in order to stop MPs debating Brexit is entirely false".

The documents have formed part of the case heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh today, which is being brought by a cross-party group of 75 MPs and peers.

MORE: Court to be told prorogation to prevent Brexit discussion is 'unconstitutional'

The challenge, which is being led by Joanna Cherry QC MP, seeks a ruling that the planned prorogation of parliament is both illegal and unconstitutional.

Petitioners see the prorogation as an attempt to limit the powers of parliament at a crucial time.

But in advance of the case, Johnson has refused to given a sworn statement setting out his reasons for shutting down parliament, a move which the MPs' lawyer QC Aidan O'Neill said "can and should draw adverse inferences".

Number 10 had told the court that the case is "academic, hypothetical and premature", and had said that all its documents had been submitted.

But at 22.35 the night before the hearing, it sent the memos over.

Aidan O'Neill QC said that the court had been "actively misled" and that the documents show Number 10's view of the case was "not true".

The case will be decided tomorrow.

Reacting to the revelations, Labour MP Ian Murray said: "The revelations in the Court of Session this morning show Boris Johnson treats parliamentary democracy with contempt and the people of Britain with utter distain.

"First, he dismissed any notion of parliamentary accountability as a 'rigmarole' and mocked the public's concerns," said the MP, who supports the People's Vote campaign.

"Then he went out and lied about his intentions," he continued.

"These are the words and actions of a supremely arrogant, privileged and out-of-touch politician who cannot be trusted to be honest about his intentions in politics or anything else.

"We cannot let Boris Johnson govern the country like some medieval monarch, dismissing parliament and ignoring the public. It's time to trust the people, not Boris Johnson, to solve this Brexit crisis. It's time to settle this once and for all by giving the people the final say on Brexit."

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