New episode out of the ordinary in the Brexit saga: On Thursday, September 19, a former Conservative prime minister, John Major, accused the current Tory prime minister, Boris Johnson, of lying to the Queen and weakening the British Parliament. And he did not do it on a television set or in the columns of a newspaper, but in the Supreme Court, the highest court in the United Kingdom.
It was his lawyer, Lord Edward Garnier, who spoke in the court on behalf of the former head of government (between 1990 and 1997). His arguments were all uppercuts against Johnson's controversial decision to suspend the British Parliament for five weeks (from 9 September to 14 October) just before the theoretical exit of the European Union (EU) on 31 October.
Reasons given for suspension ("extension") of House of Commons and Lords "Can not be exact" a underlined Me Garnier in his argument, the government has not sent to the Court sworn statement justifying its decision. Mr. Johnson was content, on August 28, with a letter to the deputies claiming that he needed a suspension for "To prepare an ambitious reform program".
Johnson accused of wanting to gag Parliament
His opponents accuse him of wanting to gag Parliament, at a crucial moment in Brexit, to negotiate a new divorce agreement with Brussels, or to go to an exit without agreement, against the majority opinion of elected officials. Major joined forces with anti-Brexit activist Gina Miller, who denounced prorogation in the High Court of England.
The latter, at the beginning of September, had rejected their complaint, considering that the judges can not pronounce on a prorogation, decision "By political nature". But as the High Court of Scotland, also seized, rendered a contrary opinion, holding the suspension "Illegal",It is now up to the Supreme Court to decide.
Me Garnier denounced the argument of character only "Policy" prorogation: "If this conclusion is correct, it would mean that there is nothing in our law to prevent a Prime Minister from proroguing Parliament under any circumstances or for any reason. " Since then, "A prime minister could prorogue Parliament just before a vote of no-confidence, if he fears losing it, for the sole purpose of avoiding being forced to resign".
The camp of the "Leave" nonetheless pointed out, Thursday, on social networks, that Mr. Major had not hesitated to put on leave forced the elected for three weeks, in 1997. At the time, his detractors the accused of wanting to avoid voting on a report on corruption in the conservative ranks …
Lawyers on the defensive
The day before, very much in the face of the Supreme Court, Aidan O'Neill, the plaintiff's attorney at the High Court of Scotland, had even denounced "The closure of the mother of Parliaments (Westminster) by the father of the lies (Boris Johnson) ". During the three days of hearings, the defense of the prime minister appeared constantly on the defensive, Lord Keen, the lawyer of Downing Street, repeating that the deputies "Would have plenty of time" examine texts related to Brexit from 14 October.
Posed, almost relaxed, Lord Pannick, M's lead counselme Miller, concluded, on Thursday, the hearings by claiming from the Court that she declares "Illegal" the advice given by the Prime Minister to the Queen, when Mr. Johnson asked him at the end of August to authorize the prorogation. Such a declaration would be enough to allow the Speakers of the House of Commons and the Lords to reconvene Parliament " from next week ".
The eleven judges of the Supreme Court must render their decision, "As early as humanly possible", said Lady Hale, the president, from Monday, September 23. The country's first magistrate, 74, and her colleagues face a thorny choice: to disavow a prime minister in office? Having to decide between a High Court of Scotland and a High Court of England?
A "one" of the "Daily Mail"
The last time that judges of the Court had had to decide on a subject directly related to Brexit – they had authorized the Parliament to pronounce on the notification of the Brexit in Brussels, at the end of 2016 -, that had earned them this "one" infamous of Daily Mail where they were presented as "Enemies of the people". "In no case are we here to define when and how the United Kingdom will leave the European Union", thought it useful to re-write Lady Hale on Thursday.
The concern has risen a notch in the entourage of Boris Johnson, who thought it was safe to leave this judicial parenthesis, but that now risks leaving feathers, so the arguments of the plaintiffs were taken seriously by the Court. "I'm cautiously optimistic," said Joanna Cherry, the member of the Scottish National Party (SNP) who initiated the complaint to the High Court of Scotland, leaving the hearings.
A decision to his disadvantage would further weaken Boris Johnson, while more a day goes by without a new problem. After humiliation on Monday by the Luxembourg Prime Minister (who held a joint conference without him), Mr. Johnson was caught in the act of lying on Wednesday, September 18, during a hospital visit. "There are no journalists here", he said in front of the television cameras, while the ulcerated father of a young patient reproached him for worrying more about his media plan than the state of the British health system.