Johnson denies lying to the Queen over suspension of Parliament
The Prime Minister said the five-week prorogation in the run-up to Brexit is needed to enable ministers to set out a new programme of legislation.
Boris Johnson has denied lying to the Queen in order to secure the suspension of Parliament.
Scotland’s highest civil court ruled on Wednesday that the five-week prorogation was unlawful because it was obtained for the “improper purpose of stymying Parliament”.
However, the Prime Minister insisted he had sought the suspension so that the Government could set out a new legislative programme in a Queen’s Speech on October 14.
Opposition MPs have argued that the real reason was to stop Parliament holding the Government to account over its Brexit plans.
But, asked during a visit to mark London International Shipping Week whether he had lied to the monarch in order to obtain the prorogation, Mr Johnson replied: “Absolutely not.”
He said the High Court in England had taken the opposite view to the Court of Session in Edinburgh and that the case would now be decided in the Supreme Court.
“The High Court in England plainly agrees with us but the Supreme Court will have to decide. We need a Queen’s Speech, we need to get on and do all sorts of things at a national level,” he said.
Opposition parties fear Mr Johnson is determined to take Britain out of the EU on October 31, despite the Benn Act, which says the Government must seek a further delay if there is no agreement on a deal with the EU.
The Prime Minister insisted he remained confident that it would be possible to reach a deal in time for it to be agreed at the EU summit on October 17 and 18.
“I’m very hopeful that we will get a deal, as I say, at that crucial summit. We’re working very hard – I’ve been around the European capitals talking to our friends,” he said.
“I think we can see the rough area of a landing space, of how you can do it – it will be tough, it will be hard, but I think we can get there.”
However, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said they were still waiting to see proposals from the UK side to resolve the fraught issue of the Northern Ireland backstop.
“We are still ready to examine objectively any concrete and legally operational proposals from the UK,” he told reporters in Brussels.
Opposition parties stepped up their demands for the immediate recall of Parliament after the Government released details on Wednesday of its Operation Yellowhammer no-deal preparations.
The document, released in response to a Commons motion passed on Monday before the House was suspended, warned of medical shortages, food price hikes and severe delays to cross-channel trade.
For Labour, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said it was essential MPs returned to Westminster so they could question ministers about the plans.
“This is more like emergency planning for war or a natural disaster,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“We cannot minimise this. It does not get more stark,
Mr Johnson sought to play down the significance of the paper, saying it represented a “worst-case scenario” and ministers had been “massively accelerating” their no-deal preparations since he entered No 10 in July.
“If we have to come out on October 31 with no-deal we will be ready and the ports will be ready and the farming communities will be ready, and all the industries that matter will be ready for a no-deal Brexit,” he said.
“What you’re looking at here is just the sensible preparations – the worst-case scenario – that you’d expect any government to do.”
The Prime Minister also insisted he had no quarrel with the Court of Session judges who ruled the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful.
The Government faced accusations it was trying to undermined the judiciary after No 10 sources were quoted as suggesting the Scottish courts were “politically biased”.
Mr Johnson said: “The British judiciary, the United Kingdom judiciary, is one of the great glories of our constitution – they are independent.
“Believe me, around the world people look at our judges with awe and admiration so I’m not going to quarrel or criticise the judges.”