Belfast Telegraph

Suzanne Breen: Humiliation for Boris Johnson after Supreme Court ruling


A man wearing a giant Boris Johnson mask, dressed as a prisoner, outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. PA
A man wearing a giant Boris Johnson mask, dressed as a prisoner, outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. PA
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

As humiliations go, they don’t come greater than this.

Boris Johnson naturally wanted to win but a split decision against him by the Supreme Court would have been a setback. A unanimous decision by its 11 justices that he had acted unlawfully is abject defeat.

A protester dressed as the Prime Minister outside the London court wore a black and white striped prison uniform with a ‘Guilty’ sign hanging around his neck.

Johnson may not be heading to jail but as he flies back from New York tonight he knows just how restrictive and punitive Parliament will be tomorrow.

Savouring victor, Speaker John Bercow couldn’t hide his pleasure. “I have instructed the House authorities to prepare not for the recall – prorogation was unlawful – to prepare for the resumption of the business of the House of Commons,” he declared.

At the Labour Party conference, Jeremy Corbyn denounced Johnson’s “contempt for democracy” and called for his resignation.

Yet the Prime Minister isn’t in retreating mode. Speaking from New York, he said while he had “the utmost respect for our judiciary”, he strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision and prorogation had been used for centuries without challenge.

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“There are a lot of people who want to stop this country coming out of the EU,” he said. “We have a parliament that is unable to be prorogued, doesn’t want to have an election and I think it is time we took things forward.”

His narrative is clear for all to read. He is a Prime Minister seeking to fulfil the democratic wishes of the people for Brexit with all sorts of elitist forces ranged against him.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing US business leaders at Hudson Yards in New York after judges at the Supreme Court in London ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.

It’s a simple and clear message. His predecessor would have been devastated by such a Supreme Court ruling on her watch, but Johnson is cut from an entirely different cloth than Theresa May.

He will not be put off course by this. He is focused first and foremost on winning the next election and the Supreme Court ruling is unlikely to harm his chances. His critics are forgetting that.

So long as the outrage is contained in the Westminster and in the Remain constituency generally, and doesn’t spread to the base in which he must secure support, Johnson won’t be that worried.

Corbyn will be under immense pressure to table a confidence vote in Parliament now. A snap election in November seems the only possibility of ending the current paralysis.

It is the verdict of the people – not of the courts – which will ultimately decide Johnson's fate.

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