Boris Johnson has repeated his condemnation of a landmark ruling by Britain’s highest court that his suspension of parliament was unlawful, saying he “profoundly” disagreed with the decision and indicating he could take the same action again.
Speaking alongside Donald Trump at the UN general assembly in New York as they went into a meeting together, Johnson said: “As I said earlier on, let’s be absolutely clear that we respect the judiciary in our country and we respect the court. I disagree profoundly with what they had to say.”
Johnson rejected the idea that he could resign over the defeat, and was backed up by Trump. Asked if he might step down, Trump said: “I’ll tell you, I know him well, he’s not going anywhere.” Johnson added: “No, no, no.”
Trump went on to say the reporter concerned had asked “a very nasty question”.
Speaking earlier in the day, before a breakfast speech to US businesspeople and investors, Johnson declined to spell out what he might do after the supreme court found that the five-week prorogation was “void and of no effect”.
(August 24, 2019) The story breaks
The Observer breaks the story that Boris Johnson has sought legal advice on closing parliament for five weeks
(August 27, 2019) Leaks spread
Other media organisations begin to receive leaks that Johnson will make a statement on prorogation
(August 28, 2019) Visit to Balmoral
Three privy counsellors, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, travel to Balmoral to tell the Queen of the prorogation plan. Cabinet ministers are informed by conference call
(August 31, 2019) Protests and protestations
Tens of thousands protest against prorogation. Cross-party group of MPs steps up preparation for blocking no deal when parliament makes a brief return
(September 3, 2019) Parliament returns
Parliament returns and the prime minister loses six votes in six days. MPs vote to prevent a no-deal Brexit, and refuse Johnson's attempts to force them into a general election.
(September 6, 2019) Gina Miller case fails
Legal campaigner Gina Miller vows to continue her “fight for democracy” after the high court dismissed her claim that the prime minister acted unlawfully in giving advice to the Queen to suspend parliament at a time of momentous political upheaval.
(September 9, 2019) Parliament dissolved
Parliament is dissolved amid chaotic scenes as some MPs hold up signs saying they have been silenced, try to prevent Speaker John Bercow leaving the chamber, and sing the Red Flag.
(September 11, 2019) Scottish court ruling
The court of session in Scotland rules that Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament for five weeks was unlawful. The case will go to the supreme court.
(September 17, 2019) Supreme court hearing
The Supreme court begins three-day hearing to join together all the appeals and legal challenges to the prorogation.
(September 24, 2019) Supreme court finds prorogation was unlawful
The judges unanimously decided that prorogation was justiciable, and it was in the power of the court to rule on it. They additionally found that the prorogation was unlawful, as it had the effect of preventing parliament from being able to carry out its constitutional functions. The court found that the prime minister’s advice to the Queen was unlawful, void and of no effect. Their unanimous judgement was that parliament had not been prorogued.
(September 25, 2019)
Parliament is due to go back to work.
But he insisted there was still a need for a new legislative programme preceded by a Queen’s speech – indicating there could be scope for a renewed attempt to send home MPs who are returning to Westminster after the ruling.
He also took a notably combative tone, saying those who led the legal challenge to the suspension wanted to “frustrate Brexit” – a view which appeared to run contrary to the prime minister’s repeated insistence that the suspension had nothing to do with Brexit.
He said: “It is perfectly usual to have a Queen’s speech. That is what we want to do, but more importantly let’s be in no doubt there are a lot of people who want to frustrate Brexit. There are a lot of people who want to stop this country coming out of the EU.”
A Downing Street source said Johnson had no intention of resigning in the wake of the judgment. However, he will fly home from the UN general assembly early after a conference call with cabinet ministers due at 6.30pm BST.
The PM had been due to leave New York on Wednesday morning, meaning he would be travelling when parliament returned. However, he will now leave directly after his speech to the main general assembly hall on Tuesday evening.
As well as Trump, Johnson was due to meet a series of leaders including Ireland’s Leo Varadkar and Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani.
Speaking to business leaders at the new Hudson Yards development in New York, Johnson broke off from his pre-trailed speech about investing in post-Brexit Britain to reiterate his words about the judgment, saying it would be “remiss and wrong” not to address it.
“I have the highest respect, of course, for the judiciary and the independence of our courts,” he told the audience. “But I must say I strongly disagree with the judgment, and we in the UK will not be deterred from getting on and delivering on the will of the people to come out of the EU on 31 October, because that is what we were mandated to do.”
There was a major policy agenda planned, he said. “And to do that we will need a Queen’s speech to decide how we are going to do that.
“I think that is what the people of my country, the UK, want to see. They want to see us getting on with a strong domestic agenda, and they want to see Brexit delivered by 31 October.”
It remains unclear how Johnson and his team plan to respect the ruling while also allowing for an imminent Queen’s speech, and it seems likely Downing Street is still deciding how to respond in the coming days.
After the speech as he left the building, Johnson reiterated his call for Labour to back a general election: “The obvious thing to do is to have an election. Jeremy Corbyn is talking out of the back of his head and he should have an election.”