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Brexit - where are we now?
1 October 2019
Contrary to expectation in legal circles, the English courts have ruled against the Government after a three day hearing, saying that the suspension of Parliament by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for a period of five weeks at this crucial stage in Brexit negotiations was unlawful. Eleven judges (the largest number that can all sit to hear one case) of the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, decided that (a) the courts did have the power to scrutinise this decision of the Prime Minister (b) that prorogation of Parliament at this time was unconstitutional because it was ‘without reasonable justification’ and finally (c) that the speakers in both houses of Parliament may reconvene the House of Commons and the House of Lords immediately. The effect of this unanimous decision of the judges, which was handed down yesterday, is that the suspension of Parliament is null and void. As a result of this decision, the speaker of the House of Commons has today recalled MPs to resume sitting. Not surprisingly, reactions have varied from jubilation to shocked disbelief but there is no doubt that the courts have flexed their muscles and shown that no-one is above the law.Although hailed as a momentous decision, it throws no light on the murky subject of how and when the UK will exit from the EU. Boris Johnson insists that Brexit will take place at the end of October but time is running out to find a deal that is acceptable to all parties.Emma Shipp, PartnerHewitsons LLP