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Brexit: Sinn Fein criticises Boris Johnson's 'meltdown moment' as DUP says Supreme Court ruling 'has to be respected'

Sinn Fein leader in the north Michelle O'Neill speaks to the press outside the party's office on the Falls Road in west Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Sinn Fein leader in the north Michelle O'Neill speaks to the press outside the party's office on the Falls Road in west Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O'Neill has added her voice to those calling for the Prime Minister to resign.

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She described the Supreme Court ruling that Boris Johnson's decision to suspend parliament and his advice to the Queen were unlawful as a "meltdown moment" on the part of the Government.

The case was a significant test for the Prime Minister, whose decision to shut the doors of Parliament until October 14 had prompted claims he is seeking to avoid challenges to his Brexit strategy ahead of the October 31 withdrawal date.

The court's president, Lady Hale, said Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen was "unlawful, void and of no effect" and had an "extreme" effect on the fundamentals of democracy.

Michelle O'Neill said: "What is demonstrates for me is more of the chaos, the dysfunction, the mess that is happening and unfolding day on day in Westminster.

"It clearly again demonstrates that this British Government has lost control of its own agenda.

"It is a constitutional crisis, we have been saying that for some time and I believe this is another one of those meltdown moments for this British Government."

DUP leader Arlene Foster iwith deputy leader Nigel Dodds (left) and MP Jeffrey Donaldson

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said the Supreme Court ruling "has to be respected".

Speaking on Twitter, she said her party has "always respected the principle of the separation of powers upon which our constitutional law is founded".

"Our focus must remain: defend the Union, deliver Brexit and restore devolution," she said.

The party's deputy leader Nigel Dodds has accepted that the ruling means it is possible the UK will not leave the EU on October 31.

He said that the "shenanigans" in the House of Commons had weakened the Prime Minister's hand in negotiations with the EU.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said his party will comply with the ruling and said that, when Parliament convenes on Wednesday, the DUP will be there to represent constituents.

Speaker John Bercow said there would be no Prime Minister's Questions tomorrow but there would be scope for urgent questions, ministerial statements and emergency debate applications.

Earlier he welcomed the ruling and said Parliament must "convene without delay" following the unanimous decision of the 11 justices in the Supreme Court.

"It will be a matter for the Speaker now to determine the timing of the recall of Parliament and, of course, for the Prime Minister also to decide how he will respond to this ruling," Mr Donaldson said earlier, speaking to the Belfast Telegraph.

"We still expect that there will be a Queen's speech at some stage so we will need to hear from the Prime Minister what his plans are for that."

In August, the DUP leader Arlene Foster defended Boris Johnson as he faced accusations that he is committing a "constitutional outrage" by asking the Queen to allow him to suspend Parliament for five weeks.

Ulster Unionist Party leader, Robin Swann MLA, said: “This is a devastating judgement for the Johnson government and sends a warning to all that nobody should play fast and loose with Parliamentary process.

"The Johnson government are not the only ones to engage in that. I warned at the time that this was an abuse of process and the fact that we have reached this point is deeply regrettable and may have political consequences for decades to come.

“The decision of the Supreme Court must be respected so that we can return to some semblance of normality, if that is possible in the current climate.”

The leader of the SDLP Colum Eastwood said that Boris Johnson is unfit for the office he holds after the Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday.

Frustrated: Colum Eastwood

Mr Eastwood said the Supreme Court decision reveals the extent to which Mr Johnson will undermine the democratic process to get his way.

"Earlier in the summer when Boris Johnson sought the suspension of Westminster during a critical time in the Brexit process, I accused him of behaving like a tinpot dictator.

"[The] ruling at the Supreme Court confirms that he acted unlawfully to undermine the democratic accountability and scrutiny of his government at a critical time for these islands.

"It’s clear that Johnson has lied, cheated and acted unlawfully as Prime Minister. He is unfit for office.

"Full scrutiny of this government and it’s plans for a hard Brexit must now be restored and challenged immediately. Johnson must be removed from office and Brexit called to a halt. The best way to do that is through an election. Let people have their say on the actions of this Government."

Alliance leader Naomi Long said Mr Johnson's position is "now untenable".

"He is unfit for the office of PM", she wrote on Twitter.

The leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland Clare Bailey MLA said Boris Johnson's "capacity for dishonesty and deceit [had] been demonstrated across his career".

"It's imperative that Parliament is reconvened and all efforts are directed towards preventing a no deal Brexit.

"A People's Vote is the only way forward in the face of this time of constitutional crisis and unprecedented division."

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