In a historic ruling the Supreme Court has ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament earlier month was unlawful.
Johnson suspended – or prorogued – parliament for five weeks earlier this month, saying it was to allow a Queen’s Speech to outline his new policies.
But the court said it was wrong to stop parliament carrying out its duties in the run-up to the Brexit deadline on 31 October.
Delivering its conclusions, the Supreme Court’s president, Lady Hale, said: “The effect on the fundamentals of our democracy was extreme.”
She added: “The decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.”
The decision marked a huge victory for the businesswoman and transparency campaigner Gina Miller who launched legal proceedings against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government following the prorogation of parliament claiming that it was unconstitutional to do so.
Speaking about the Supreme Court judgement Miller said: “Today is not a win for any individual or cause. It is a win for Parliamentary sovereignty, the separation of powers and independence of our British courts.
“Crucially, today’s ruling confirms that we are a nation governed by the rule of law – laws that everyone, even the Prime Minister, are subject to.
“Do not let the government downplay the seriousness and significance of today’s judgment. The judges have spoken unequivocally.”
Miller continued: “It has been examined by the most senior court and judges in the United Kingdom, and they have found unanimously that the Prime Minister unlawfully advised the Queen to prorogue / shut Parliament to silence our democratically elected MPs at one of the most critical times in our country’s modern history.
“This was a breach of the central constitutional principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty to gain political advantage.
“As a result of this judgment, Parliament is open – it was never prorogued. I urge MPs to get back to work immediately.
“For the second time in three years – my legal team and I have found ourselves with no choice but to appear before the Supreme Court to defend the sovereignty of Parliament – to remind the government that they are not above the law.”
Speaking to The Voice earlier this month, Miller said: “The abuse since I decided to launch this legal challenge has been extraordinary.
“But I look in the mirror and the question I ask myself is ‘why am I doing this?’ And I believe that going forward this will have a massive impact on our democracy.
“If he were to get away with this, this would mean he could basically behave like a dictator and bypass parliament. Because our constitution isn’t written it depends on people behaving in a particular way. I call this a gentleman’s agreement.
“If you’ve got a prime minister who is not going to abide by that, someone who is going to throw out all the old rules and abide by new rules….if he got away with proroguing parliament it would mean that any future prime minister who decided that they didn’t like the fact that MPs were objecting to any policy that they were bringing forward they could just close parliament down for five weeks. You can’t set that as a precedent.”
See the new monthly edition of The Voice out next week for an exclusive interview with Gina Miller