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UK PM tried to silence parliament, SC told

UK PM tried to silence parliament, SC told

AFP
London
Prime Minister Boris Johnson closed down parliament to silence opposition to his Brexit strategy in an unlawful abuse of power, Britain’s Supreme Court heard Tuesday as the battle over Brexit reached the highest court in the land.
Judges began hearing three days of highly-charged arguments over whether it was lawful for Johnson to advise Queen Elizabeth II to prorogue, or suspend, parliament for more than a month, as the clock ticks down to Britain’s October 31 EU exit date.
Campaigners challenging the suspension argue that Johnson’s motivation for shuttering the chamber from last week to October 14 was to avoid MPs trying to stymie his plans for Britain to leave the European Union with or without a divorce deal from Brussels at the end of next month.
But Johnson’s lawyers insisted it was not a matter for the courts to get involved in -- and said that in any case, it was permissible to suspend parliament for overtly political reasons.
Richard Keen, the government’s top Scottish legal adviser, told the Supreme Court of past cases where the executive had prorogued parliament to avoid scrutiny and force through its programme -- which Johnson has always insisted was not his reasoning.
Keen said the prime minister would take all necessary steps to comply with whatever the court decided.
But when he could not say in court that Johnson would not simply prorogue parliament again, one of the judges asked for a written response on what measures Johnson would take. The UK’s narrow 2016 referendum decision to leave the EU is coming to a head. The politically-charged court case, unprecedented in Britain, could lead to parliament being recalled and Johnson’s political hand being severely weakened in the run-up to October 31.
A defeat in court for Johnson would leave him open to charges that he effectively lied to Queen Elizabeth and likely trigger calls for his resignation. In a sign of the unease still consuming the country, demonstrators wanting Britain to remain inside the EU traded barbs with pro-Leave rivals outside the central London court -- which sits directly opposite the shuttered parliament.

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