Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament Blocked by Supreme Court5 min read

“Protest against Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Oxford in front of Balliol College”
Photo by James Claffey on Unsplash

On September 24th, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom declared that Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament was illegal. Just the latest in a long series of events surrounding the United Kingdom’s attempt to leave the European Union, this court decision comes a critical time. As of now, the United Kingdom is set to leave the union on October 31st, with or without an agreement. This date has already been pushed back a couple times, and Boris Johnson, the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is determined to not let that happen again. Johnson decided to suspend parliament for five weeks, with this deadline ever approaching. 

This move, however, does not come without legal justification. The prime minister does have the power, with the approval of the Queen, to suspend parliament. As justification for their decision to block the suspension, “The court noted that typically such breaks are measured in days, not weeks, and that this unusually long suspension came at a critical moment when Britain’s future was about to be determined” (Adam). Basically, the court is arguing that the Prime Minister is using his power in a way that it was not intended to be used. As a result, the suspension is no longer in affect. Although the power to suspend parliament does lie with the Prime Minister and the Queen, I agree with the court and their decision. It is clear that the move on the Prime Minister’s part was to limit that time and ability of parliament to discuss and make crucial decisions on Brexit. The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union is momentous. No member state has ever left. The economic and political ramifications, as a result, are largely unknown and could be disastrous. 

Although he denies it, the Prime Minister is widely accused of closing parliament in an attempt to force a no-deal Brexit (“Parliament Suspension”). According to Boris Johnson, “he wants to leave the EU on 31 October with a deal, but it is ‘do or die’ and he is willing to leave without one rather than miss the deadline” (“Parliament Suspension”). So what would a no-deal Brexit mean? The European Union is largely an economic agreement. Without a deal between the EU and the UK, these agreements would cease with no replacements, causing companies in the United Kingdom to be less competitive in inter-European trade (“What Is”).  The European Union allows trade to flow freely between member states without penalties such as tariffs and import tax. A growing list of companies are in the process of leaving the United Kingdom or plan to cut jobs due to uncertainty about Brexit (Sommerlad). In short, there is no way to know what Brexit could mean for the United Kingdom’s economy, but it is not looking good. The fact that the United Kingdom is heading towards a no-deal leave is likely to spell disaster for their economy. Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament only serves to exacerbate this uncertainty and panic. His idea that the United Kingdom must leave the European Union no matter what on October 31st, is simply reckless. 

The economy is not the only thing left uncertain by a no-deal Brexit. The future of the border between The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is at stake. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, and therefore would leave the Union. That would essentially close the open border between the two countries. This eventuality is due to the fact that The Republic of Ireland must “agree to reinstate the border or run the risk of being booted out of the European single market;” If they do not close the border, “Northern Ireland could be used as a so-called back door into the EU” (Flanagan). Historically, the border between the two countries caused violence in a period known colloquially as “The Troubles.” The closing of the border “could endanger the region’s hard-won peace” (Flanagan). Now, it is uncertain whether the closing of this border would actually result in a return of violence in Ireland. But a no-deal Brexit would basically be leaving it up to chance. Johnson so far has refused to accept the closing of the border between the two countries, and the European Union has insisted on the opposite (“Brexit: All You Need”).  Johnson seeks to simply go forward with Brexit whether or not a solution is agreed upon. Whatever the solution may be, it must be decided before the United Kingdom goes forward with Brexit. 

There are many uncertainties involved in Brexit. The people of the United Kingdom did vote to leave the European Union, but a comprehensive deal, agreed upon by parliament, is essential to avoid crisis. Boris Johnson’s attempt to subvert the autonomy of parliament and force the country into Brexit without a deal only serves to harm the United Kingdom. The action that courts took is a great first step, but parliament must find a way to agree on a deal. As October 31st fast approaches, that likelihood of a deal grows ever slimmer. 

Works Consulted

Adam, Karla, and William Booth. “Britain’s Supreme Court Rules Prime Minister Boris Johnson Suspended Parliament Illegally.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 24 Sept. 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/britains-supreme-court-set-to-rule-on-boris-johnsons-decision-to-suspend-parliament/2019/09/24/af719d70-dd9e-11e9-be7f-4cc85017c36f_story.html.

Flanagan, Peter. “What a No-Deal Brexit Would Mean for the Irish Border.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 22 Aug. 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/what-a-no-deal-brexit-would-mean-for-the-irish-border/2019/08/20/cf0aba4e-c373-11e9-8bf7-cde2d9e09055_story.html.

“Brexit: All You Need to Know about the UK Leaving the EU.” BBC News, BBC, 16 Sept. 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-32810887.

“Parliament Suspension: Queen Approves PM’s Plan.” BBC News, BBC, 28 Aug. 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-49493632.

Sommerlad, Joe, and Ben Chapman. “These Are the Companies Cutting UK Jobs and Leaving the UK Ahead of Brexit.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 22 May 2019, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/brexit-companies-leaving-uk-list-job-cuts-eu-no-deal-customs-union-a8792296.html.“What Is a ‘No-Deal Brexit’?” BBC News, BBC, 13 Sept. 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-48511379.

1 thought on “Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament Blocked by Supreme Court<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">5</span> min read</span>”

  1. Hi Sam,
    I really enjoyed your article. I share the belief that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for Britain’s economy. A no-deal Brexit would leave Britan in a terrible position. When I was in Britan this past February I talked to many people about the situation and most of the locals just told me something along the line of, “I just want it to be over already. Just do it as soon as possible.” This sort of attitude is what allowed Boris Johnson to get elected as PM in the first place. I think that delaying Brexit any longer would be just as disastrous as a no-deal Brexit, but I do believe that no matter what it will happen on October 31st.

    This is where my only disagreement with your argument stems from. I don’t necessarily think that leaving regardless of whether a deal has been reached or not is reckless. While a deal would obviously be ideal, I think that not leaving the EU by October 31st would only grow the frustration in Great Britan that can currently be seen. This frustration could lead to even more fringe candidates gaining positions in public office.

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