A court could soon rule Boris Johnson's no-deal Brexit threat to shut down parliament illegal

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Fusion Energy Research Centre at the Fulham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, Britain August 8, 2019. Julian Simmonds/Pool via REUTERSBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Fusion Energy Research Centre at the Fulham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, Britain August 8, 2019.Julian Simmonds/Pool via REUTERS

  • A court case designed to stop Boris Johnson from suspending parliament begins this week.
  • A group of anti-Brexit politicians are seeking a Scottish court to rule that Boris Johnson's threat to shut down parliament in order to force a no-deal Brexit is 'unlawful and unconstitutional'
  • The move is backed by over 70 MPs and peers.
  • 'A man with no mandate seeks to cancel Parliament for fear it will stop him inflicting on an unwilling public an outcome they did not vote for and do not want,' said Jolyon Maugham QC, who is supporting the case.

A legal bid to stop Boris Johnson forcing through a no-deal Brexit by shutting down parliament is due to get underway on Tuesday.

The case, backed by over 70 MPs and peers, seeks for the Court of Session in Edinburgh to rule that proroguing parliament to make the UK leave the EU without a deal in October is "unlawful and unconstitutional."

The petition was filed at the Edinburgh court and has now been granted permission to be heard by a judge. An initial hearing to determine how the legal challenge will proceed is due take place before Lord Doherty at the Court of Session on Tuesday morning.

A successful challenge brought by the same anti-Brexit group of politicians last year saw the European Court of Justice rule that the UK can reverse Brexit without the consent of the other 27 EU member states.

Johnson has pledged to take the UK out of the EU at the end of October, with or without an agreement, despite warnings from industry leaders and colleagues that a no-deal Brexit would be severely disruptive and economically damaging.

Most MPs in parliament are opposed to a no-deal Brexit, and Downing Street aides have suggested the prime minister could get around this by shutting down - which is known as proroguing - parliament before the October deadline.

Those involved in the latest case believe it is vital to secure a court ruling now before any attempted suspension of parliament takes place.

The prime minister's most senior aide Dominic Cummings has reportedly also said Johnson will refuse to resign even if his government loses a confidence vote in the House of Commons.

Scottish National Party, Liberal Democrat, Labour and Plaid Cymru MPs are all petitioners in the case, as well as Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project, which is supporting the case.

"A man with no mandate seeks to cancel Parliament for fear it will stop him inflicting on an unwilling public an outcome they did not vote for and do not want," Maugham said.

"That's certainly not democracy and I expect our courts to say it's not the law."

The legal papers state: "Seeking to use the power to prorogue Parliament to avoid further parliamentary participation in the withdrawal of the UK from the EU is both unlawful and unconstitutional."

They also say that "the exercise of the power of prorogation would have irreversible legal, constitutional and practical implications for the United Kingdom."

If successful, the plan would see government lawyers advise that Johnson should not ask the Queen to suspend parliament in order to force through no deal. He could then be served with an injunction if he ignored the advice.

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