Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he disagreed but will respect the British Supreme Court decision Tuesday that his move to close Parliament for five weeks before Brexit was unlawful.
The Supreme Court in a unanimous 11-0 decision ruled the controversial move by Johnson to suspend Parliament was unlawful and ordered lawmakers back to work.
“We will go ahead and of course parliament will come back,” Johnson said Tuesday in New York while attending the United Nations General Assembly. “I have the utmost respect for our judiciary. I don’t think this was the right decision.
“I think that the prorogation has been used for centuries without this kind of challenge. There are a lot of people who want to frustrate Brexit. There are a lot of people who want to stop this country coming out of the EU.”
The Supreme Court ruling comes as Johnson tries to negotiate a new deal with the European Union outlining an exit on Oct. 31.
Senior Judge Brenda Hale said Johnson’s move frustrated “the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.” Last month, Johnson persuaded Queen Elizabeth II to suspend Parliament until Oct. 14 as part of his plan to advance Britain’s domestic agenda. Critics, however, argued it was an attempt to force through an EU exit with or without an agreement.
“The first question, therefore, is whether the prime minister’s action had the effect of frustrating or preventing the constitutional role of Parliament in holding the government to account. The answer is that of course it did,” the court wrote in its ruling.
“This was not a normal prorogation in the run-up to a queen’s speech. It prevented Parliament from carrying out its constitutional role for five out of a possible eight weeks between the end of the summer recess and exit day on the 31st of October.”
Johnson’s opponents pounced on the decision, with Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn saying the prime minister should “consider his position” after the court rebuke.
Corbyn said the Supreme Court ruling shows Johnson has “acted wrongly in shutting down Parliament and demonstrates a contempt for democracy and an abuse of power.”
Lawmaker Ian Blackford called on Johnson to “do the honorable thing and resign.” House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said Parliament would “convene without delay.”
“The judges have rejected the government’s claim that closing down Parliament for five weeks was merely standard practice to allow for a new queen’s speech,” he said. “In reaching their conclusion, they have vindicated the right and duty of Parliament to meet at this crucial time to scrutinize the executive and hold ministers to account.”
British businesswoman Gina Miller, who first brought a legal challenge against Johnson’s decision to shutter Parliament, said the court’s ruling is a victory for Britons.
“Today’s ruling confirms that we are a nation governed by the rule of law,” she said. “Rules that everyone even the prime minister is not above.”
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