LONDON — Opposition lawmakers urged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to recall Parliament on Wednesday after Scotland’s highest court ruled that his suspension of the legislature is unlawful.
Parliament was suspended early Tuesday after Johnson said he wanted to submit his government program in a new parliamentary session.
But critics accused him of trying to use prorogation, or suspension, to limit scrutiny ahead of his promised deadline for Britain to leave the European Union, with or without an exit deal, on Oct. 31.
“No one in their right mind believed Boris Johnson’s reason for shutting down parliament,” tweeted Keir Starmer, the opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman.
“I urge the prime minister to immediately recall parliament so we can debate this judgement and decide what happens next,” Starmer wrote.
Johnson ignored the controversy later Wednesday while answering written questions from the public, in what Downing Street called a live “People’s prime minister’s questions” video-streamed via Twitter and Facebook.
Johnson defended his suspension of Parliament but did not comment on the Scottish court ruling or on the calls for him to recall Parliament.
“Parliament has so far failed to implement the people’s will,” he said after reading a question that asked if his government was anti-democratic and authoritarian.
He was referring to the 2016 Brexit referendum, in which 52% voted to leave the European Union.
Johnson again insisted that the suspension of Parliament would allow him to “push on” with his program for improvements to health services, policing and other “people’s priorities.”
He said Britain must leave bloc, with or without a deal, on Oct. 31.
The Court of Session in Edinburgh upheld an appeal against a lower court’s ruling last week, saying Johnson’s advice to Queen Elizabeth II that Parliament should be suspended was “unlawful because it had the purpose of stymieing Parliament.”
The court said it will “make an order declaring that the prime minister’s advice to HM the Queen and the prorogation which followed thereon was unlawful and is thus null and of no effect.”
“We believe that the effect of the decision is that parliament is no longer prorogued,” tweeted Jo Maugham, a lawyer in the Scottish case against prorogation.
Maugham said he expected the Supreme Court in London to begin hearing an appeal by the government on Tuesday.
“We are disappointed by today’s decision, and will appeal to the UK Supreme Court,” Downing Street said in a statement.
Scottish National Party (SNP) lawmaker Joanna Cherry, who led the Scottish legal case, told reporters outside the court that she was “absolutely delighted” by the ruling.
“Now, for every moment Parliament remains prorogued, the British government are breaking the law,” Cherry said. “We, as politicians, are calling for Parliament to be recalled.”
Cherry said she expected the Supreme Court to sit for three days to examine the Scottish case and two similar challenges in English and Northern Irish courts to Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament.
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