Boris Johnson forced to cut short US trip and fly back to parliament after humiliating Supreme Court ruling

Prime minister suggests second suspension possible after Brexit plans left in ruins

Rob Merrick
New York
,Zamira Rahim
Tuesday 24 September 2019 14:31
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Boris Johnson says he 'strongly disagrees' with Supreme Court judgment

Boris Johnson has been forced to cut short his trip to the US in the wake of a humiliating Supreme Court ruling which declared his decision to suspend parliament unlawful.

Responding to the explosive decision for the first time, the PM told reporters in New York that he “strongly disagrees” with the verdict but said parliament “will come back”.

The prime minister also said his “preference” was for parliament to be prorogued again so a Queen’s Speech could be held.

A second suspension is not expected imminently, after the ruling left Mr Johnson’s Brexit plans in ruins.

In a pooled interview in New York, the PM said: “Obviously this is a verdict that we will respect and we respect the judicial process.

“I have to say that I strongly disagree with what the justices have found. I don’t think that it’s right but we will go ahead and of course parliament will come back.

“I do think there’s a good case for getting on with a queen’s speech anyway and we will do that.”

Mr Johnson also criticised the Supreme Court, saying: “To be honest, it is not made much easier by this kind of stuff in parliament or in the courts​.”

His claim appeared to be a contradiction of his own legal team’s argument in court, which rested on the claim that parliament’s suspension was unrelated to Brexit.

A UK government source told The Independent that the leader would be returning to London sooner than planned, although he will still give a speech as scheduled to the United Nations this evening.

“We will be flying back overnight to the UK after the PM’s speech to the UN this evening.” the source said.

The prime minister had been due to catch a flight back in the morning, following an appearance at the UN General Assembly.

Instead he is expected to return to London by around 11am on Wednesday.

Despite mounting pressure on his premiership a Downing Street source said Mr Johnson will not resign in the wake of the Supreme Court judgment.

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The No 10 source said: “The PM will not resign following the judgment.“

“Following the PM giving his speech at the UN this evening he will be flying back overnight to the UK and there will be a Cabinet call today while the PM is in New York.”

Mr Johnson attempted to strike a defiant tone while talking to journalists in New York after the court’s ruling was delivered.

“As the law currently stands, the UK leaves the EU on 31 October come what may but the exciting thing for us now is to get a good deal – and that is what we are working on,” he said.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, called on Mr Johnson to “consider his position”.

The call was echoed by Ian Blackford, the SNP leader in Westminster, who called for the prime minister’s resignation.

Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat leader, said Mr Johnson had “again proven he is not fit to be prime minister.”

John Major, a former Conservative prime minister, called on the country’s leader to apologise to parliament for his actions.

“This was a case that should never have had to be considered, and it gave me no pleasure to be pitted against a government and prime minister of my own party,” he said.

“I hope this ruling from the Supreme Court will deter any future prime minister from attempting to shut down parliament, with the effect of stifling proper scrutiny and debate, when its sitting is so plainly in the national interest.”

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve, the co-chair of the People’s Vote Political Committee, said Mr Johnson will now face intense pressure for a second EU referendum, pitting Theresa May's deal against Remain.

Mr Grieve said: “Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court shows that the Prime Minister’s undemocratic attempts to ram his plans for No Deal through are continuing to fail. But the crisis in our democracy has not been ended by this decision. Instead, it gives all of us an opportunity to pull our country back from the dangerous cliff-edge where Boris Johnson’s reckless and relentless pursuit of the hardest possible form of Brexit has taken us.

“I believe the penny has dropped for a growing number of MPs that the only legitimate way of solving this crisis is to allow the people to decide, now that we know so much more about what Brexit would mean, whether we want to go ahead with it or not. There is a growing recognition on all sides that a general election is no way of settling this question and, indeed, could end up being divisive without being decisive with it quite likely to result merely in another hung parliament

“It is entirely possible for MPs to decide now to have a confirmatory referendum on Theresa May’s deal - or some other version of it - which can take place before an election. This could take place within five or six months and be binding on all participants. It would give us the clarity we all need to move on from the Brexit crisis and then have an election where all the other issues facing our country could be properly debated.”

In the wake of the court ruling parliament will resume at 11.30am on Wednesday.

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