UK lawmakers return to Parliament
Lawmakers returned to work on Wednesday after a momentous ruling by the United Kingdom’s highest court that found Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament to be unlawful.
“Welcome back to our place of work,” House of Commons Speaker John Bercow told MPs, before saying he would ensure the prorogation was “expunged” from records and is instead listed as “adjourned.”
This comes after the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that Johnson’s decision to unilaterally prorogue Parliament until mid-October — just two weeks before the UK is due to leave the European Union — was “unlawful, void and of no effect.”
Critics quickly called for Johnson to resign in the wake of the decision, but the Prime Minister was defiant, telling reporters in New York as he was at the United Nations General Assembly that while he had “the utmost respect for our judiciary … I don’t agree with the verdict.”
While Bercow confirmed that there won’t be Prime Minister’s Questions, which normally takes place on Wednesdays — where Johnson could have faced a grilling — he said there was “scope” for urgent questions, ministerial statements and emergency debate applications.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox began proceedings on Wednesday by defending Johnson’s suspension — which was done on the advice by Cox himself. He then launched a furious and animated tirade at lawmakers, calling Parliament a “disgrace” and “dead.”
“They could vote no confidence at any time, but they’re too cowardly. They could agree a motion to allow Parliament to dissolve, but they’re too cowardly,” Cox said.
“This Parliament should have the courage to face the electorate, but it won’t, because so many of them are really all about preventing us leaving the European Union.”
Despite no PMQs, Johnson’s official spokesman said in a briefing on Wednesday that the Prime Minister will speak in the House later on and will address the question of whether the government is still planning a Queen’s Speech.
The spokesman also reiterated that Johnson remains committed to delivering Brexit on October 31.
The Prime Minister insisted on Tuesday that Parliament still needs a Queen’s Speech in order to outline parliamentary business.
“We will need a Queen’s Speech to set out what we are going to do, and I think frankly that is what the people … want to see,” he said.
On Wednesday Parliament’s upper house, the House of Lords, also announced that it would resume sitting later on in the afternoon at 3 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET).
Lawmakers push to hold Johnson accountable
According to Britain’s PA news agency, senior opposition politician Jon Trickett suggested he would try to bring Johnson to Parliament to explain his actions.
“We want to hear what legal advice he was acting on, why he ended up in court and being ruled in this quite extraordinary way,” Trickett said, according to PA.
“As the debate goes on and we hear the answers, clearly we will be wondering and making decisions on how to proceed next,” he added.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn brought his keynote speech forward at Labour’s party conference on Tuesday so he and fellow lawmakers could return to the House of Commons on Wednesday.
Corbyn unleashed a scathing attack on Johnson, insisting the PM should step down for causing a “reckless and disastrous plan to crash out of the European Union without a deal.”
“He will never shut down our democracy or silence the voices of us, the people,” Corbyn told a packed conference hall in the southern English resort of Brighton. “The government will be held to account for what he has done.
“He thought he could do what he wants, just as he has done all his life,” Corbyn added.