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AFP
September 18, 2019

British PM tried to silence parliament, SC told

World

AFP
September 18, 2019

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.