Unanimously Uncertain: The UK Supreme Court's Brexit Ruling Explained

© REUTERS / HENRY NICHOLLSA protester stands outside the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom after the hearing on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to prorogue parliament ahead of Brexit, in London, Britain September 24, 2019
A protester stands outside the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom after the hearing on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to prorogue parliament ahead of Brexit, in London, Britain September 24, 2019 - Sputnik International
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The UK Supreme Court has ruled Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament was illegal, raising questions about whether the UK will in any sense be departing the European Union 31st October, as the Prime Minister has so frequently pledged.

The Court’s ruling was unanimous and unequivocal - the Prime Minister advising the Queen to suspend parliament was “unlawful, void and of no effect", and "had the effect of frustrating or preventing" the UK legislature from carrying out its functions.

By voiding the decision, the Court has effectively ruled the suspension of parliament never happened - but while the judgement is seismic, what does it actually mean in practice?

Brexit Going Ahead…Maybe

The Court didn’t rule on Brexit, although proroguing parliament is of course intimately connected to the Prime Minister’s Brexit policy - namely, seceding from the EU on 31st October with or without a deal in place.

MPs on both sides of the house disagreed with this position in the strongest terms, but Johnson moved to suspend parliament for an unusually long five weeks, meaning MPs will only return from the summer recess 14th October - two and a half weeks before the Brexit deadline. Campaigners and lawmakers alike campaigned against the decision, arguing the move was an attempt to silence parliament - and the Supreme Court seems to have concurred.

What Happens Now?

As the suspension was ruled unlawful, parliament technically remains in session, as if the whole thing had never happened - parliament could be reconvened immediately as a result, but the ruling made clear what happens next is up to John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, and his counterpart in the House of Lords.

However, Johnson still maintains he’ll take the UK out of the EU 31st October, stating he “strongly disagrees” with the Supreme Court ruling but Parliament “will come back” as he ultimately respects the verdict and judicial process.

Complicating things further though, MPs have passed a law requiring him to ask for yet another extension - and in turn, the EU still has to agree to an extension if asked. Moreover, whether granted or not, MPs could force a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister, and if successful that would force another election. To say the least, anything can happen in the next 37 days.

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