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Wednesday, September 11, 2019, 17:49
Scottish court rules UK PM's parliament suspension unlawful
By Reuters
Wednesday, September 11, 2019, 17:49 By Reuters

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Pimlico Primary school in London, July 10, 2018, with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to meet staff and students. (TOBY MELVILLE / POOL VIA AP)

LONDON — Scotland's highest court of appeal ruled on Wednesday that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend parliament for five weeks is unlawful, the lawmaker who led the challenge said. 

The British government said it would appeal. 

"We are disappointed by today's decision, and will appeal to the UK Supreme Court. The UK Government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing Parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this," a government spokesman said.

PM Boris Johnson's Conservative Party argues that the opposition Labour Party wants to ignore the outcome of the 2016 referendum and the public's view that Brexit should be delivered

Parliament was prorogued, or suspended, on Monday until Oct 14, a move opponents argued was designed to thwart their attempts to scrutinise his plans for leaving the European Union and allow him to push through a no-deal Brexit. 

"We are calling for parliament to be recalled immediately," Scottish National Party lawmaker Joanna Cherry told Sky News after the verdict by Scotland's Inner Court of Session. 

There was no immediate comment from Johnson's office. 

On Friday, London's High Court rejected a similar challenge by campaigners and that case is due to be heard on Sept 17 at the Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in the United Kingdom. 

ALSO READ: Brexit: Johnson suspends UK Parliament after latest defeat

Jo Maugham, a lawyer involved in the Scottish case, said an appeal to the Supreme Court in their challenge would begin on Tuesday.

Britain's main opposition Labour Party should campaign against Brexit and push for a referendum to reverse its planned departure from the EU before any election, deputy party chief Tom Watson, is due to say on Wednesday.

In this March 13, 2019, video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn (left) and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson listen as then Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during the weekly Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London. (PHOTO / PRU / AFP)

After parliament ordered Johnson last week to seek a Brexit delay beyond Oct 31 unless he strikes a deal to smooth the transition, Brexit is up in the air with options ranging from a turbulent no-deal exit to a referendum that could reverse the entire endeavour.

In a speech that is at odds with the stance of Labour's leader Jeremy Corbyn, Watson will say there is "no such thing as a good Brexit deal" and Labour must campaign unequivocally to remain, the BBC said.

"The only way to break the Brexit deadlock once and for all is a public vote in a referendum," Watson will say, according to the BBC. "A general election might well fail to solve this Brexit chaos."

"There is no such thing as a good Brexit deal, which is why I believe we should advocate for remain," he will say.

The 2016 Brexit referendum showed a United Kingdom divided about much more than the EU, and has given rise to soul-searching about everything from secession and immigration to capitalism, empire and modern Britishness.

It has also triggered civil war inside both of Britain’s main political parties as dozens of lawmakers put what they see as the United Kingdom’s fate above that of party loyalty.

Divided kingdom

Johnson says the United Kingdom will leave the EU "do or die" on Oct 31 and has ruled out seeking an extension. He says he wants to agree an exit deal with the bloc at an EU summit on Oct 17.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday there was still every chance for Britain's divorce from the EU to transpire with a deal although Berlin is prepared for a disruptive no-deal Brexit in case that does not happen.

"We still have every chance of getting an orderly (Brexit) and the German government will do everything it can to make that possible - right up to the last day. But I also say we are prepared for a disorderly Brexit," Merkel told parliament.

"But the fact remains that after the withdrawal of Britain, we have an economic competitor at our door, even if we want to keep close economic, foreign and security cooperation and friendly relations," Merkel added.

Protesters holding Scottish and European flags gather in front of St Gilles Cathedral facing the Scottish Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland, Sept 4, 2019. (FRANCOIS MORI / AP)

EU leaders, though, are adamant that the onus is on the divided United Kingdom to propose a way out of the Brexit impasse.

A Kantar opinion poll showed fewer than one in three Britons think it is likely that the United Kingdom will leave the EU by Oct 31. If a new referendum was held, 37% of Britons say they would vote to remain, 34% say they would vote to leave while 18 percent would not vote at all, Kantar said.

That survey and a ComRes poll published this week put the governing Conservatives ahead of Labour although there was a huge divergence.

Comres had the Conservatives ahead by just one percentage point compared to Kantar's double-digit lead, reflecting the difficulty of forecasting any election outcome.

READ MORE: Scottish court rejects bid to block UK parliament suspension

Watson will say that while an autumn election seems inevitable, "that does not make it desirable". Corbyn has said he wants an election and that Labour will then offer a referendum with both leave and remain options.

Johnson's Conservative Party argues that Labour wants to ignore the outcome of the 2016 referendum and the public's view that Brexit should be delivered. Britons voted 52% to 48% three years ago in favour of Brexit.

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