- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered an unprecedented humiliation Tuesday when the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that his suspension of Parliament was invalid and illegal.
- The ruling could hardly have come at a worse time for the prime minister, who was 3,500 miles away from London in New York City and was set to address the UN.
- It was not immediately clear how Johnson would respond. He may even abandon his address to the UN to return and deal with the crisis.
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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a humiliation of unprecedented scale for a British head of government on Tuesday when the UK Supreme Court declared his decision to shut down Parliament illegal, unjustified, and invalid.
The court ruled that Johnson’s decision was “unlawful” and that the suspension of Parliament — a process known as prorogation — had no effect.
The suspension was a bold gambit that had the effect of limiting the ability of lawmakers to control Johnson’s government as it sought to remove the UK from the European Union by October 31 with or without an exit deal.
Johnson and his administration did not immediately respond to the ruling.
For Johnson, the decision came at an awful time, while he was 3,500 miles away in New York City for the meeting of the UN General Assembly. The local time was just before 6 a.m.
Johnson was due to address the UN’s annual conference Tuesday, his first opportunity to do so as prime minister.
Johnson was expected to deliver a speech to announce a new £1 billion, or $1.2 billion, fund for UK inventors seeking to create new technology to fight climate change.
This is sure to be overshadowed by the court ruling.
He may now be forced to return to London to address Parliament after John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, announced his intention to reconvene Parliament as soon as possible.
If Parliament does reconvene, which it could do as soon as Wednesday, Johnson will most likely be expected to speak during Prime Ministers’ Questions at midday.
Prime ministers often delegate this role while they are overseas, but political reality may make this difficult for Johnson.
The British political journalist Paul Waugh speculated that should Johnson fail to return to the UK in time for PMQs, he could be “empty-chaired” by Bercow.
—Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) September 24, 2019
Tom Newton Dunn, the political editor for the Sun newspaper, suggested that Johnson could abandon his address to the UN to get home sooner.
—Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) September 24, 2019
Johnson was quickly facing calls from opposition politicians for his resignation. Labour MP David Lammy called on the prime minister to “open the doors of Parliament and resign.”
Number 10 Downing Street said it would not be responding to the Supreme Court’s decision immediately, according to the Sky political reporter Sam Coates.