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UK Supreme Court rules Johnson’s parliament suspension unlawful; Corbyn urges him to resign

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the United Nations (UN) Climate Action Summit on September 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by AFP)

The UK Supreme Court has ruled “unlawful” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move in advising Queen Elizabeth II to suspend parliament in the weeks preceding the country’s pending exit from the European Union.

A panel of 11 justices at the London-based Supreme Court gave the unanimous ruling on Tuesday, after spending three days hearing appeals over legal challenges in England and Scotland.

"The decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification," Supreme Court President Brenda Hale said Tuesday.

"Parliament has not been prorogued. This is the unanimous judgment of all 11 justices," she added. "It is for parliament, and in particular the speaker and the (House of) Lords speaker, to decide what to do next."

The ruling allows the parliament to reconvene after Johnson, who has no majority support there, managed to suspend (or in the British lingo prorogue) it between September 10 and October 14.

The members of parliament (MPs), who are mostly opposed to Johnson's plans for a no-deal Brexit, will now have a new opportunity to hinder the premier’s plans.

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow said in a statement released by his office that the MPs needed to get back to work Wednesday.

"I welcome the Supreme Court’s judgment that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful," he said.

"As the embodiment of our Parliamentary democracy, the House of Commons must convene without delay. To this end, I will now consult the party leaders as a matter of urgency."

Corbyn urges Johnson to resign

Meanwhile, UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn took the opportunity to call on the embattled Johnson to resign and call a new general election.

“Our parliament is elected by our people to hold our government to account,” he said.

"I invite Boris Johnson, in the historic words, to 'consider his position'," Corbyn told delegates at the Labour Party's annual conference in Brighton after the ruling.

He received huge cheers and chants of "Johnson out!" after saying that the Tory prime minister should become the shortest-ever serving leader of the country and that Labour was ready to form a government.

Besides Corbyn, many other lawmakers, including those who were kicked out of the ruling Conservative Party for rebelling against Johnson, had called for his resignation if he was found to have misled the queen.

Ian Backford, the Scottish National Party’s leader in Westminster, said Johnson should step down.

"This is an absolutely stunning judgment by the Supreme Court today, none of us anticipated that we would have a result such as this," he said.

"We must be back in parliament immediately, I know the speaker is going to be talking with all the party leaders, we want to get back to work and quite frankly on the back of this Boris Johnson must resign," he added.

And Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said Johnson “isn’t fit” to lead Britain.

"This confirms what we already knew – Boris Johnson isn’t fit to be prime minister. He’s misled queen and country, and unlawfully silenced the people’s representatives. I’m on my way to resume my duties in the Commons and stop Brexit altogether," she said.

Gina Miller, one of the activists who brought the legal action, said the ruling showed Johnson that he was not above the law.

"Crucially today's ruling confirms that we are a nation governed by the rule of law, laws that everyone, even the prime minister, is not above," she said. "MPs should turn up for work tomorrow and get on with scrutinizing this government."

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