As House of Commons convenes, Boris Johnson seems out of options

Britain’s Supreme Court on September 24 had ruled that the government’s move to suspend parliament for five weeks was unlawful

September 25, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Boris Brexit
In another setback for the Boris Johnson-led government in the UK, the country’s supreme court has ruled its suspension of the parliament for five weeks as null and void.

The House of Commons reconvened on September 25 after the country’s supreme court ruled that the government’s move to suspend parliament for five weeks was unlawful. In a unanimous judgement by a bench of 11 judges, the court decided that the proroguing of parliament was null and void, effectively meaning that the parliament was never suspended to begin with.

The judgement has far-reaching implications for the Johnson government that no longer enjoys a majority in the parliament, and has only 37 days left to figure out a strategy for Brexit. 

The government had suspended the parliament for five weeks until October 14, claiming that it required more time to draft the Queen’s speech, which is customary at the beginning of every new session. The suspension would have caused the loss of 20 crucial sitting days in the parliament’s calendar, in the run up to the Brexit deadline of October 31.

The government’s move was viewed as a “coup”, meant to push for a no-deal Brexit, with Johnson avoiding any parliamentary scrutiny. However, 21 Tory MPs rebelled immediately and went against the party whip to vote for the opposition’s legislation that prevented the government from implementing a no-deal Brexit. Since then, several resignations have taken place within the party, including that of two ministers, one of whom is the prime minister’s own brother.

Johnson has thrice sough fresh elections but has failed to secure enough votes in the House of Commons. Shortly after the judgement, the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, called for the parliament to be reconvened without any delay. Even though the government had earlier hinted at a second suspension, the prime minister ruled out that possibility after the judgement came in.

A reconvened parliament is expected to take greater control of the Brexit process, the deadline for which is barely a month away. It is also speculated that the opposition’s demand for the resignation of the prime minister, who no longer enjoys a parliamentary majority, will also be taken up for discussion.