Prorogation of Parliament: What happens next?

Three senior Scottish judges have ruled that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament was “unlawful”.

The Government said it was “disappointed” by the decision and will appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court.

Here the PA news agency takes a look at some of the key questions following the ruling.

– When will the Supreme Court make a ruling?

The matter has been referred to the UK Supreme Court, which will start to hear the arguments on Tuesday.

A panel of nine justices will hear the case, led by Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, and they are likely to make a ruling later in the week.

The Supreme Court is also expected to consider a similar case brought in England by businesswoman Gina Miller, in which High Court judges said it was not a matter for the courts.

And it may also consider a legal challenge in Belfast that argued the Government’s Brexit strategy will damage the Northern Ireland peace process.

The ruling will be delivered on Thursday morning, and would have to be heard by the Court of Appeal in Belfast, possibly over the weekend, before potentially being heard at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. 

– What happens if the Supreme Court rules prorogation was unlawful?

The Government would almost certainly have to advise the Queen to recall Parliament immediately in such an instance.

But the Supreme Court could rule that Parliament was never prorogued and is still in session, meaning that there is no need to recall Parliament.

Either way – if the Supreme Court rules that the prorogation was unlawful – it is likely that Parliament will have to return very quickly.

Raphael Hogarth, an associate at the Institute for Government, said: “If the Supreme Court rules next week that the prorogation was unlawful, then I’d expect Parliament to be sitting again in very short order.

“The mechanics of that depend on what the court says. The court might say that Parliament was never prorogued at all in the eyes of the law and so is actually still sitting after all. Or, the Government might need to recall Parliament immediately.”

Queen Elizabeth
The Queen has the power to recall Parliament through a proclamation (Andrew Milligan/PA)

– How would the Queen be involved?

The monarch has the power to recall Parliament through a proclamation – which the Prime Minister would be expected to advise her to do if the prorogation was ruled to be unlawful by the Supreme Court.

If Boris Johnson refused to do so, the Queen would be plunged into an incredibly awkward position.

The parliamentary rulebook Erskine May notes: “When Parliament stands prorogued to a certain day, the Queen may issue a proclamation, giving notice of her intention that Parliament shall meet for the dispatch of business on any day after the date of the proclamation; and Parliament then stands prorogued to that day, notwithstanding the previous prorogation.”

Could Parliament still have its break for party conferences even if it was recalled?

Yes, but this would have to be agreed by MPs who vote on whether or not to go into recess.

– What does it mean for the Brexit process?

Regardless of whether Parliament is recalled, not a lot will change in legislative terms for Brexit before mid-October as a law designed to prevent a no-deal has already received Royal Assent.

However, prorogation has reduced the opportunities for MPs to scrutinise the Government – and has cut short the time remaining to debate Brexit in the Commons before October 31.

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