Scottish judges rules prorogation is illegal. What happens next?

A panel of judges in the Scottish appeals court ruled Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament was illegal on Wednesday.

A panel of judges in the Scottish appeals court ruled Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament was illegal on Wednesday.

The ruling overturned an earlier decision that the courts did not have the power to interfere with Boris Johnson’s order to prorogue parliament. 

The appeals court, however, decided that the order was “null and void” after lawyers acting on behalf of 75 MPs and peers said suspending parliament would stifle action on Brexit. 

Despite the ruling, the judges did not issue an injunction which would force parliament to reconvene. Instead, they are waiting on the UK supreme court to issue a final decision.

So what happens next? 

Even though the judges are waiting on the supreme court’s decision on an injunction, the lawyers who worked on behalf of the MPs said that they believe today’s decision meant that prorogation was suspended “with immediate effect”. 

Joylon Maugham QC, a legal campaigner who funded the legal action with his Good Law Project, said the ruling was a win for democracy. 

“I’m relieved that my understanding of the functioning of our democracy – that allows parliament to exercise its vital constitutional role – has been vindicated by Scotland’s highest court.

“This is an incredibly important point of principle. The prime minister mustn’t treat parliament as an inconvenience.”

However, Joanna Cherry QC, the lead applicant on the case, said she did not agree with Maugham that parliament was reconvened immediately. 

“This ruling takes us one step closer to ensuring the UK government cancels their shameful prorogation and blatant plot to force through an extreme Brexit. Boris Johnson cannot be allowed to break the law with impunity,” the MP said. 

The government will now appeal the case to the supreme court, meaning that at least for the moment, parliament is seemingly still suspended. 

A UK government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed by today’s decision and will appeal to the UK supreme court. The UK government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this.”

Meka Beresford is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter.

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11 Responses to “Scottish judges rules prorogation is illegal. What happens next?”

  1. Keith little

    The Simple truth is that the people voted to leave Europe and now it is the people versus Parliament. If we do not leave without a deal we would negotiate a deal later but still continue trading with Europe. Short Term Pain for Long Term Freedom. I know which option I prefer and Freedom has always come first from the beginning of time. Not leaving the EU opens the door for Mr Fararge and Tory and Labour will be slaughtered in a General Election.

  2. Alasdair MacVarish

    The small majority in the advisory referendum was not sufficient to overcome the inaccuracies in the electoral register which is usually only about 85% complete. A clear 60/40 decision should have been required as in more experienced countries.

  3. Dick Symonds

    Your quote from Alasdair MacVarish is absolutely right. (I have been saying it for years). Brexit is a supremely constitutional question, and in every country that has a real constitution , one written down, a two thirds majority is required , which is only right if what is proposed is a major change with longstanding consequences. The next Labour government must as a priority set up a Royal Commission on the Constitution with the outcome to propose the written version – which will need a two thirds majority in the Houses of Parliament to be accepted.

  4. Nigel Grant

    It is not about People versus Parliament. It is about fighting for Democracy for the British people. Short term pain for the many is not something I want to be part off. You, by the sounds of things will be okay but many people who rely on prescriptions / drugs etc will be very vulnerable. Have you not wondered why the Government will not disclose their report which clearly highlights worst case scenarios. I do not know about you but if things are as reported, our country will implode under these scenarios I would strongly advise against this potential and high risk no deal approach. The risks are too high Keith. Austerity has already destroyed the lives of many people and our communities. I imagine you have given little thought to this. I am concerned that ‘The Left Behind’ will suffer even more from Brexit. There is no such thing as Long Term Freedom but perhaps I have got it wrong. I would be delighted if you could explain your vision of Long Term Freedom. Deals do not magically appear they have to be negotiated and we still do not have any major deals to highlight and that is despite Liam Fox’s three and somewhat years running round the globe in desperation to establish trade deals with the U.K. We already have the ability / powers to negotiate trade deals with countries out with the U.K. The sad thing is that because The Tory Government together with previous Labour Governments did not invest in communities that lost their major industries ie Coal and Steel. Do not be fooled by theTory right who keep pushing we will be alright when the truth is quite the opposite. One other thing Keith, Brexit is not the only issue in town. We need to give attention to health, education and our economy etc I do not think the Brexit Party has any policies on these vital areas for the British people.

  5. Anne

    oh flower of Scotland. Thank you Scottish courts for drubbing English Etonites. Oh how sweet this is. Oh I AM loving it!!! I am not Scots and at the moment I would trade my nationality very willingly. I take no pride in being from a country where the far right is rising. I am filled with shame at unelected PM Porky Pies. I do not want a regressive blue passport with pages embossed with spitfires and lard and dripping and vera lynn and pork pies and kippers and who knows what other dastardly images. Scotland I salute you. Any court who brings this despot to book is amazing but that it should be a Scots court is even sweeter. A proverbial Glasgow kiss! You stood against them, and sent them back to parliament to think again. Tee hee hee hee hee. Beside myself with glee. Northern Island I hope you too will give this shower a taste of your own particular medicine. On a more serious note may your own freedom come but for now I am so appreciative of your fighting spirit. I salute you again!

  6. Julia Gibb

    a) The judges are NOT waiting on the Supreme Court ruling. They have announced their finding and Westminster should re-open.
    b) The Supreme Court will be under “Scottish Law” when it reviews the appeal. I’m sure that will be a shock to some.
    c) The comments about Scottish judges from a “No10 source” highlights the danger of Right Wing Governments. Obviously they will select the judges in the future.
    d) Events are proving that the far right are behind Brexit and yet so many on the Left still support it?

  7. Julia Gibb

    @Keith Little

    If England thinks Farage is the answer then the case for Scottish Independence is secured.
    England is moving further and further Right politically and both Farage and Johnson adore Trump and his ultra right wing views.

    I am at a loss to understand the popularity of Farage in Labour voting areas. If you think this is taking back control you are in for one painful experience. I think Scotland should wish you luck and choose another path. I am certain those who reject this Brexit madness will be welcome in an Independent Scotland.

  8. Bill

    If Mr little,s “simple” view of brexit is representative of leavers then God help us all. What country in its right mind would trust doing any kind of deal with UK after the shenanigans of the last three years. Brexit was always a Tory scheme to keep hegemonic power over ‘the people ‘ and to protect their financial interests (mostly ofshore tax avoiding havens) Sadly the average uk subject ? (citizen) is and remains ignorant of facts about the EU and happily continues to tug its collective metaphorical forelock in unconscious deference to the Tory/landed rulers. HOPELESS

  9. steve

    “I am at a loss to understand the popularity of Farage in Labour voting areas.”

    More like “popularity of Brexit”.

    Voting for Brexit was a sensible and rational choice.

    The EU court of Justice and EU Commission always gives primacy to Capital. And one only has to look at the punishment inflicted on the Greek people to see the EU’s neoliberal agenda laid bare.

    The the middle class will want to hang on to their affluence and so favour the status quo. The working class (i.e. Labour’s traditional heartlands) have had a raw deal. They’ve been abandoned by New Labour’s careerist politicians and, when a meaningful opportunity arose, voted for radical change.

  10. wg

    Well said, steve.

    Many of the commenters here are ranting on about Farage or Johnson – I couldn’t give a fig for either.
    The EU has always been a Tory project, and was only fully adopted as a Labour trait when Kinnock could not get past Thatcher.

    The EU is corporatist and exploitative; and Labour has danced to their tune.
    Blair’s government set a low bar minimum wage, and the EU corporatist – along with free movement – made the most of it.
    If you doubt that, just listen to ex Labour Cabinet Minister, John Reid: “The Treasury insisted on having a free flow of labour because they thought that brought down the cost of labour”.
    In a world of free movement, a stagnant minimum wage, Zero and Short Term Contracts the boss is king.

    Blair is gone, and we are left with Corbyn – anti-EU to the bone, but being leant on by the usual self-serving clique.
    Either Labour embraces the EU fully and gives up its pretence of working for the working class people of the UK, or it kicks off this immoral support for the EU and looks to those it was set up to represent.

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    […] The ruling by the top court comes after 75 MPs and peers, led by the SNP MP Joanna Cherry, successfully appealed that the prorogation of Parliament was not legal last week in a Scottish appea… […]

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