Campaigners to find out if anti-No Deal legal challenge can go ahead

Remainers will find out TODAY if their legal bid to stop Boris Johnson forcing a No Deal Brexit by suspending parliament will be allowed to go ahead before October 31

  • Judge will decide today whether legal petition can be heard before Halloween 
  • Campaigners argue suspending parliament to deliver No Deal is ‘unlawful’
  • Boris Johnson has not ruled out proroguing parliament to keep ‘do or die’ pledge 

A judge will decide today whether a legal challenge designed to block Boris Johnson from being able to force through a No Deal Brexit by suspending Parliament will be heard before October 31.

The legal bid, backed by more than 70 MPs and peers, is seeking to persuade the Court of Session in Edinburgh to rule that proroguing Parliament and sending MPs home to stop them thwarting No Deal would be ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’.

The petition has been filed at the Edinburgh court, which sits through the summer, and has been granted permission to be heard by a judge. 

An initial hearing is due to take place before Lord Doherty at the Court of Session this morning to determine the timescale of when the legal challenge will proceed.

Campaigners want proceedings to get underway as soon as possible with the current Brexit Halloween deadline now just 79 days away.  

Mr Johnson has promised to take the UK out of the EU with or without a deal by October 31 ‘do or die’. 

The Prime Minister has not ruled out suspending parliament to make sure the UK can leave the EU without a deal if his attempts to renegotiate the existing terms of divorce fail. 

Pro-Remain MPs are using their summer break, with Parliament on recess until the start of September, to come up with potential ways of stopping No Deal. 

Fierce clashes with the Johnson administration over Brexit are guaranteed when MPs return to Westminster with many expecting the PM to face a vote of no confidence in the coming weeks. 

Boris Johnson, pictured leaving Downing Street this morning, has not ruled out suspending parliament to force through a No Deal Brexit

Ian Murray, a Labour MP, is one of 70 politicians to have backed the legal bid designed to stop Mr Johnson from proroguing parliament 

The anti-No Deal legal bid was granted permission to proceed by the Scottish courts, with campaigners stressing the urgency of the case due to the existing deadline.

A cross-party group of politicians is backing the legal petition, supported by the Good Law Project, which won a victory at the European Court of Justice last year over whether the UK could unilaterally cancel Brexit by revoking Article 50.

Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project, said: ‘A man with no mandate seeks to cancel Parliament for fear it will stop him inflicting on an unwilling public an outcome they did not vote for and do not want.

‘That’s certainly not democracy and I expect our courts to say it’s not the law.’ 

Labour MP Ian Murray is one of the politicians to have signed the petition and he said: ‘When Boris Johnson unveiled his vacuous slogan “taking back control”, voters weren’t told that this could mean shutting down Parliament.

‘The Prime Minister’s undemocratic proposal to hold Westminster in contempt simply can’t go unchallenged.

‘On behalf of voters across the UK, this cross-party legal challenge aims to prevent him riding roughshod over British democracy.

‘A No Deal Brexit would be catastrophic for Scotland and the UK, and voters deserve a final say on whether they want to keep the best deal we have and remain in the EU.’

The legal papers state: ‘Seeking to use the power to prorogue Parliament to avoid further parliamentary participation in the withdrawal of the UK from the EU is both unlawful and unconstitutional.’

Warning that ‘the exercise of the power of prorogation would have irreversible legal, constitutional and practical implications for the United Kingdom’, the challenge calls for the court to declare that suspending Parliament before October 31 would be both unconstitutional and unlawful by denying MPs and the Lords the chance to debate and approve the decision.

MPs have already moved to make proroguing parliament more difficult. 

They successfully amended legislation earlier this year which requires the government to publish regular statements and hold debates in the House of Commons about efforts to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland.

The first of those statements will be published on September 4 with the first debate due to take place on September 9. 

The idea behind forcing the government to publish regular updates to the Commons was to make it almost impossible to suspend parliament because failure to update MPs would risk breaking the law. 

The government also believes September 9 will be the first Brexit showdown with Europhile MPs. 

Government sources believe MPs could try to use the debate to force a vote to take control of proceedings in the Commons in order to pass anti-No Deal legislation.

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