the Supreme Court inflicts a major judicial snub on Boris Johnson

The judges overturned the Conservative Prime Minister's suspension of Parliament, plunging the kingdom into a new political turmoil.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in New York on September 24.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in New York on September 24. SPENCER PLATT / AFP

Historical. The word is not too strong. The British Supreme Court made a landmark decision on Tuesday (September 24th) that will find its place in the UK's political annals. By declaring the unanimous decision of his eleven judges illegal, the decision of Prime Minister Boris Johnson to suspend the British Parliament for five weeks (between 9 September and 14 October), and adding that this suspension did not In effect, and Parliament could sit again immediately, the highest court in the country inflicted a huge snub on Boris Johnson.

Tuesday, 10:30 am. The eleven Supreme Court justices took their seats behind their semicircular offices. Despite the rain, television cameras are already clustering on the forecourt of the neo-Gothic building that serves as the seat of the institution, a stone's throw from the Westminster Parliament. The president, Lady Hale, 74, is at first inaudible: the microphones do not work, the website of the Court is down. This young institution (it sits since 2009) is not used to such media attention.

Quickly, the sound comes back. Very calm, Lady Hale first recalls the timing of events: August 28, Boris Johnson decides the "prorogation" of Parliament and recommends the suspension to the Queen, who approves. It is customary for the sovereign not to oppose the decisions of the government. In the wake, the first complaints are filed: in front of the Scottish High Court, by a group of about sixty elected, and before his equivalent for England and Wales, by the anti-Brexit activist Gina Miller .

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Pedagogue, the president then unrolls her reasoning. Yes, the Court held that it could take a position on the legality or otherwise of Boris Johnson's recommendation to the Queen. At the beginning of September, however, the British High Court had decided that its decision to suspend Parliament was "Political essence" and that the judges did not have to interfere. Lady Hale especially adds that this recommendation "Was illegal" because "It has had the effect of impeding Parliament's ability to exercise its democratic functions, without any rational justification". At the end of August, Johnson said he needed time to put together a reform program, which he planned to present to elected officials on October 14. But he had not provided the Court with any sworn statement confirming his intentions.


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