Boris Johnson on Thursday denied lying to the Queen over the advice he gave her ahead of suspending parliament after Scotland’s highest court ruled that the prorogation was unlawful.
The prime minister was dealt a blow when Edinburgh’s Court of Session on Wednesday said his decision to prorogue parliament in the scheduled run up to Brexit was “motivated by the improper purpose of stymying parliament”.
That was after London’s High Court ruled last week that the suspension of parliament was “inherently political” and therefore could not be reviewed by the judiciary.
The Supreme Court will next week hear the legal challenges brought by politicians and campaigners opposed to parliament’s suspension. The government has indicated that, if the decision goes against it, parliament will be recalled.
Mr Johnson, speaking on Thursday, was asked whether he had deceived the monarch over his reasons for the suspension. “Absolutely not,” he replied.
“The High Court in England plainly agrees with us, but the Supreme Court will have to decide,” said the prime minister, who has repeatedly said the UK must leave the EU on October 31 with or without a deal.
Critics of the prime minister believe that he suspended parliament in order to thwart MPs’ efforts to scrutinise his Brexit policy, and in particular their move to pass legislation to try to stop the UK crashing out of the EU on October 31.
Under his plan, parliament was prorogued from Tuesday until mid-October, although MPs and peers succeeded in getting their anti-no deal legislation on to the statute book.
Mr Johnson defended the prorogation as being necessary to enable the government to launch a new legislative programme in a Queen’s Speech on October 14.
He said he was “very hopeful” about reaching a new Brexit deal at an EU summit in October, adding: “Parliament will have time, both before and after that crucial summit on October 17 and 18 to talk about the Brexit deal.”
The Queen found herself drawn into the Brexit crisis last month when she authorised Mr Johnson’s move to suspend parliament.
Under Britain’s constitutional conventions, the prorogation of parliament is a royal prerogative power that is exercised by the monarch alone.
When the Queen suspends parliament, she does so on the advice of the prime minister and can seek no other advice, legal or otherwise, from any other individual.
The government is meanwhile refusing to bow to MPs’ request for it to hand over any private communications between Downing Street advisers and officials about parliament’s suspension.
On Monday MPs voted to require the government to hand over any communications relating to prorogation, whether through WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Facebook or private email or texts.
But the government argued that doing so would drive a “coach and horses” through the rights of staff to maintain private communications.
Opposition MPs are considering using contempt procedures in the House of Commons to force the government to release the information.
They are examining the precedent set last November when the government was found to be in contempt of parliament over its refusal to hand over legal advice on its Brexit deal with Brussels.
On Thursday Labour said it was “more important than ever” to recall parliament after the government published Operation Yellowhammer, a document about the “reasonable worst-case” impact of a no-deal Brexit.
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