UK MPs return after bombshell court ruling
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at 10 Downing Street in central London on September 25, 2019. British MPs return to parliament on Wednesday following a momentous Supreme Court ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend parliament was unlawful. (ISABEL INFANTES / AFP)
(AFP) - British MPs returned to parliament on Wednesday following a momentous Supreme Court ruling that struck down Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend the house weeks before the Brexit deadline.
The judgement has hit Johnson's authority, prompting calls for his resignation and cast further doubt on his promise to pull Britain out of the EU on October 31, come what may.
The Conservative leader landed back in London at around 10:30am (0930 GMT) after a trip to New York, heading straight into a political maelstrom triggered by Tuesday's damning court ruling that his decision to suspend parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
He was due to address parliament later on Wednesday over the ruling, while insisting that he would still not accept MPs' demands to ask Brussels for an extension to the October 31 Brexit deadline, according to his Downing Street office, setting him on another collision course with lawmakers.
The speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, reconvened parliament at 11:30 am (1030 GMT) on Wednesday, with the upper House of Lords to return later in the day.
Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn called on Johnson to resign but said he would not call a no confidence vote in parliament until the possibility of a no-deal Brexit has been eliminated.
"Our first priority is to prevent a no-deal exit from the European Union on October 31," Corbyn told BBC radio.
Bercow said there would be no Prime Minister's Questions -- a weekly session held on Wednesdays -- but there would be "full scope for urgent questions, for ministerial statements, and for applications for emergency debates".
Cabinet member Michael Gove said the government would outline its next steps in parliament later on Wednesday.
"I don't think that the government should apologise for having a strong domestic agenda. I don't think we should apologise also for seeking to advance our exit from the European Union," Gove told the BBC.
- Hammer blows for Johnson -
The ruling throws Johnson's Brexit planning into disarray, coming after a series of defeats in parliament that have curbed his plans to push ahead with Brexit even if there is no divorce deal with Brussels.
Johnson told British media he "strongly disagreed" with the court decision but would respect it.
The prime minister is likely to also renew his call for an early election to end the stand-off with parliament, having said in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that it was "the obvious thing to do".
Despite the series of hammer blows in the House of Commons and the courts, as well as losing his parliamentary majority, Johnson is still riding high in the polls and keen for an election to try and win enough seats to push through Brexit.
But he requires the consent of opposition parties to hold a snap election and they are so far reluctant, preferring to use their working majority to keep a tight leash on Johnson as the EU departure deadline of October 31 looms.
- 'Dead in a ditch' -
The 11 Supreme Court judges ruled on Tuesday that the parliamentary suspension, which came into effect this month, was "unlawful, void and of no effect".
Johnson had argued that shutting down parliament until October 14 was a routine move to allow his new government to set out a new legislative programme.
But critics accused him of trying to silence MPs.
Johnson is likely to resist resignation calls, insisting that he must take Britain out of the EU next month whatever the circumstances.
In the week between returning from their summer holiday and prorogation on September 10, MPs passed a law aiming to stop "no deal".
It obliges Johnson to ask Brussels to delay Brexit by three months if he has not agreed a divorce deal at an EU summit on October 17 and 18.
The prime minister has said he would rather "be dead in a ditch" than ask for another extension, setting up a potential showdown.
Johnson said Tuesday that he hoped to amend the divorce deal struck between the EU and his predecessor Theresa May, which has been rejected by MPs three times.
© Agence France-Presse