Johnson’s authority shredded

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Lady Brenda Hale

By Russell Bruce

The decision of the Supreme Court has left many commentators stunned. What is a surprise, and also really important, that the decision was unanimous – 11 out of 11. Somehow many thought the Court would not rule against the government although their case was clearly weak and without clarity of justification.

Johnson’s government today is a bit like a sheet of toughened glass able to withstand knocks but when hit by an overwhelming force becomes a pile of tiny shards. Turning from the implications for the Westminster parliament that was never prorogued in law, Johnson’s negotiating strategy with the EU is equally in tatters. His authority to speak for the UK has melted like an icecube in boiling water.

If some thought the result might actually favour the government then they must also come to terms with Johnson’s untenable position. Unlawful, null and void and misleading the Queen is as serious as it gets and is without precedent in UK constitutional history. No prime minister has ever before had their authority so brutally savaged. Is there some flaw in Johnson’s character that drove him to push the boundaries of constitutional law and procedure beyond all democratic justification?

Does the mastermind behind the devious unlawful scheme, Dominic Cummings, fall on his sword of shame? Neither Cummings nor Johnson really do shame.

Parliament has two major functions, to scrutinise and pass legislation and secondly to hold government to account. Parliament in both houses was prevented from debating and deciding on prorogation. As Lady Hale explained they were presented with a blank piece of paper by executive order.

For the still determined Brexiteers they need to understand this is nothing to do with Brexit. The manner of the UK leaving is still to be decided but parliament’s decision that the UK does not leave without a deal gains supremacy because it is the one thing that parliament has been able to come to a majority decision on.

The conservative party conference takes place this weekend. Can it go ahead? Will Johnson still be leader, indeed prime minister? Can Johnson still try and carry on regardless? Does he still have the support of his MPs and grassroots members out in the shires? Tory MPs have been told not to comment, so does that suggest Johnson will make an announcement soon or is it an attempt to shut down internal party discussion on the biggest political bust up since Charles I’s rather decisive end.

Polling Update

According to a YouGov poll on the question Do you think Boris Johnson should or should not resign?

52.4% think Johnson should resign and 47.6% think he should stay. Support for Johnson to stay mainly with Conservative voters and Leave supporters

A surprising 62% agree with the Supreme Court ruling whilst 38% disagree. Percentages exclude don’t knows/refused.