UK court: Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament unlawful

Legal Issues

A Scottish court dealt another blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans Wednesday, ruling that his decision to suspend Parliament less than two months before the U.K. is due to leave the European Union was an unlawful attempt to avoid democratic scrutiny.

The government immediately said it would appeal, as the political opposition demanded Johnson reverse the suspension and recall lawmakers to Parliament.

With Brexit due in 50 days, the court ruling deepened Britain’s political deadlock. Johnson insists the country must leave the EU on Oct. 31, with or without a divorce deal to smooth the way. But many lawmakers fear a no-deal Brexit would be economically devastating, and are determined to stop him.

Their case got a boost late Wednesday as the government gave in to a demand from lawmakers and published a document showing that a hard exit could lead to logjams for freight, shortages of some foods and medicines, major travel disruptions and possible rioting.

The document’s release was the day’s second setback for Johnson and followed the surprise judgment by Scotland’s highest civil court, which found that the government’s action suspending lawmakers was illegal “because it had the purpose of stymieing Parliament.”

Johnson claims he shut down the legislature this week so that he can start afresh on his domestic agenda at a new session of Parliament next month. But the five-week suspension also gives him a respite from rebellious lawmakers as he plots his next move to break the political impasse over Brexit and lead Britain out of the EU by Oct. 31, “do or die.”

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