Today or later this week the whole institution known as Britain could implode and shatter beyond repair. It is not hyperbole to suggest Britain in its current format is finished. I say that regardless of whether the UK Supreme Court finds for the Government that its extraordinary prorogation of Parliament is lawful or that the Highest Court in Scotland’s judgement that it was indeed unlawful is upheld. Either way Britain will not survive.
Under the terms of the Treaty of Union 1707 it was agreed that formerly sovereign Scotland would retain its distinctive judiciary despite losing its national identity. Scotland within Britain would still be ruled by Scots law and courts. England would similarly retain its laws and courts, different from Scotland in many ways.
The legal challenge to Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament for the longest period in 40 years with the Queen’s assent took place in Scotland because the English High Courts were not sitting at the time the legal challenge was submitted not because the alleged crime took place in Scotland, as some have suggested because Jacob Rees-Mogg was dispatched to Balmoral in Scotland to give the Queen the request for prorogation that she dutifully agreed to.
It is all quaint, ancient and thoroughly undemocratic that an unelected Monarch in this day and age has any say on the deliberations of an elected Parliament but that is the sad state of British affairs.
At the lower level in front of only one judge, known as the Outer House (I knew my Law Degree and Practice Diploma would come in useful someday), Lord Docherty effectively bottled it and passed the buck. He ruled such Ministerial decisions were not justiciable, meaning the concern of the courts, but agreed to fast-track and appeal to the more authoritative legal level, the Inner House, where at least three judges preside and act as a Court of Appeal.
Let’s be absolutely clear about the High Court of Appeal in Scotland, both civil and criminal. It is the highest legal authority in the land of Scotland. It is what determines our description as a country which abides by the ‘rule of law’. We have district courts, sheriff courts and high courts which all make decisions which are ultimately appealable to the final arbiter of the High Court of Appeal.
After listening to two days of argument from lawyers representing the Johnson Government, but crucially no-one from the Government or even a legal affidavit, a sworn testimony of truth, and lawyers from the appellants, 75 parties in total almost all of them elected MP’s, the three Scottish High Court judges delivered a unanimous and strident verdict that held the Government’s actions were indeed illegal because they were not designed to make space for a new Queen’s speech but instead to obstruct, interfere, prevent the Parliament from holding the Executive, Johnson’s Cabinet, to account and scrutiny at a crucial time in the Brexit negotiations.
They were unanimously convinced that the decision to prorogue Parliament was the concern of the courts, i.e. ‘justiciable’, and that it was unlawful as it was based on improper intentions. The Queen had acted on false information. The prorogation should not have been agreed. The ruling paper said:
“… all three judges have decided that the PM’s advice to the HM the Queen is justiciable, that it was motivated by the improper purpose of stymying Parliament and that it, and what has followed from it, is unlawful”…
“The court will accordingly make an Order declaring that the Prime Minister’s advice to HM The Queen and the prorogation which followed thereon was unlawful and thus null and of no effect” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-49661855
So the highest court in Scotland has ruled categorically, clearly and unanimously that Boris Johnson misled the Queen and acted unlawfully in seeking a prorogation of Parliament on false terms. He lied to the Queen. We shouldn’t be surprised. The guy is a serial liar. He has lied to his editor at the Spectator magazine and was subsequently forced to resign as a result.
He lied to his former Tory leader boss Michael Howard when he was a shadow Minister and had to resign.
He lied about the amount of money the UK sends to the EU each week and how much the NHS would get after Brexit.
He lied about Turkey being imminently allowed to join the EU during the 2016 Brexit debates.
Last week he took his lying to new levels when confronted by an angry parent concerned about NHS cuts during an almost covert hospital visit and blurted out ‘there are no media here’ despite the whole visit being recorded by the BBC, Press Association and others. Did he think the man concerned for the health of his infant child would be so confused he would think the men and women holding cameras and microphones were actually nurses and doctors not the media?
It is ridiculous for Johnson to compare himself to the Hulk. Sure they both wreak havoc and devastation in their wake and ruin lives and communities but Hulk does it unconsciously because he is sick and out of control whereas Johnson does it consciously and cruelly to further his own elite political agenda. Johnson is no Hulk. He is the prime Pinocchio of British politics, the king of liars.
The QC acting on behalf of the victorious appellants at the Supreme Court in London last week clearly had such behaviour in mind when he addressed the 11 Supreme Court judges convened to deliberate on the Scottish High Court of Appeal judgement:
“What we have with this prorogation is the mother of parliaments closed down by the father of lies …” “Lies have consequences but the truth will set us free. Rather than allow lies to triumph, this court should listen to the angels of its better nature and rule that this prorogation is an unlawful abuse of the power of prorogation which has been entrusted to the government.
“This government has proved itself unworthy of our trust as it uses the power [of its] office … which is corrosive of the constitution and destructive of the system of parliamentary democracy on which our union polity is founded. Enough is enough. Dismiss this appeal and let them know that. This is what truth speaking to power sounds like” https://www.theguardian.com/global/2019/sep/18/father-of-lies-supreme-court-prorogation-boris-johnson.
What a rasping condemnation of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet of English nationalist bigots, out of touch millionaires and right wing reactionaries and a condemnation that deserves full consideration and a positive ruling.
Mr O’Neill reminded the Supreme Court that there is no such thing as the UK nation. Rather the UK was a “state of nations” not a single nation state.
That “state of nations” is now in a state of cardiac arrest from which there is no return. If the Supreme Court finds against the Government then Johnson will be compelled to resign and should find himself in a court room faced with a prison sentence for misleading the Monarch and conspiring with others to dupe her into committing a crime. An urgent general election will be called and regardless of the outcome in England Scotland’s Tories will be wiped out completely and Scottish independence will be all but guaranteed.
On the other hand if the Supreme Court rejects the Scottish High Court of Appeal ruling it will effectively be the death knell in the British union for Scotland could no longer remain in an arrangement which ignores our rule of law determination. If Scotland’s highest court is ignored by the British Supreme Court it will have revealed itself as no more than an English court holding Scots law and cots courts in contempt. Any Scottish politician who accepts that the Supreme Court can ride roughshod over such an important and considered Scottish High Court of Appeal decision is in a state of servitude. These High Court judges seen the email communications, they read of the secret plans and organised subterfuge. That is why they unanimously found the Johnson Government acted unlawfully. If the Supreme Court overrules that decision we are in a state of constitutional meltdown.
The next few days will be reported in future history books as the beginning of the disintegration of Britain and its archaic, undemocratic and unwritten constitution. Boris Johnson pedals the myth that Brexit will make Britain great again when in actual fact it will lead to its break up and the emergence of a sovereign Scotland at least and probably a united Ireland.
This article was written by our Political Adviser, Tommy Sheridan and does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or policy of Solidarity as a whole