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Scottish court rejects request to challenge Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — A Scottish judge on Friday rejected a request to challenge the British prime minister’s decision to suspend parliament, angering Brexit opponents without agreement who saw Boris Johnson’s move as a “coup”.

Edinburgh’s highest civil judiciary issued its decision after a group of about 75 parliamentarians in favor of staying in the European Union sought a text deemed illegal.

The court ruling is provisional pending a hearing on the substance of the case, which will be held on 6 September.

The verdict was highly awaited after Johnson angered the opposition and many Britons. A petition against the parliament’s suspension had collected the signatures of 1.6 million people by Thursday evening, while thousands of people took to the streets to condemn what they saw as a “coup”. Other demonstrations are expected to take place this weekend and Tuesday.

The prime minister has the right to suspend parliament after being allowed by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. But the moment he chose to do so just before Brexit, and the length of the one-month suspension, were the objections.

By suspending parliament for such a long period, Boris Johnson is suspected of wanting to prevent lawmakers from blocking Brexit without agreement, which he wants to implement if he does not reach a compromise on Brexit on October 31.

Boris Johnson was careful not to link his decision to suspend parliament with Brexit, saying he wanted to use this time to set up his national policy agenda as prime minister, a post he took on July 24 to succeed Theresa May.

If his opponents succeed in proving that his motives are more related to Brexit than national policy, the courts may consider his decision unlawful.

– “Low probability” –

Parliamentarians who have filed a complaint with the Scottish court for weeks oppose the possibility of suspending parliament. The court heard their request urgently on Thursday evening.

Their lawyer, Aiden O’Neill, said parliament’s suspension was “unprecedented”. He added that “the government seeks to impose its authority through the suspension of parliament, relying on a parliamentary majority.” “This is unconstitutional and this court should stop it.”

Government representative Rudy Dunlop asked the court to reject the request, especially because parliament was suspended mainly.

However, Aiden O’Neill believes the queen should withdraw her consent if the court finds Johnson’s decision illegal, because the queen is “not above the law.”

Stephan Thiel, a researcher at Oxford University Law School, said the best thing parliamentarians could get was a ruling that considered Boris Johnson’s decision illegal. But that will not necessarily oblige Johnson to ask the queen to reverse the suspension of parliament.

The researcher himself told the financial news agency Bloomberg that there was “a small possibility” that the judiciary order to reverse the decision to suspend parliament.

– Belfast and London –

Northern Ireland’s Supreme Court will hear an emergency appeal on Friday against Johnson’s decision by human rights defender Raymond McCord.

“Certainly, Boris Johnson has the power to advise the queen to suspend parliament,” McCord told AFP.

Gina Miller, a businesswoman and anti-Brexit activist, has also appealed to the English courts and hopes to hold a hearing in London from next week. In 2017, Miller won a legal battle to force the government led by Theresa May at the time to consult with parliament on the withdrawal.

– Accelerate negotiations –

Meanwhile, the Brexit ministry in London announced that European and British negotiators would meet twice a week in September to try to understand the terms of the October 31 separation.

The ministry explained that “technical meetings” could be added to the two weekly meetings, noting that these meetings will continue during the suspension of parliament from the second half of September to 14 October.

“His talks with European leaders on their desire to discuss alternative solutions to the anti-democratic safety net are encouraging,” Johnson said in a statement.

“It is necessary to hold additional meetings and discussions if we want to have an opportunity to reach an agreement on our exit on 31 October,” he said.

But Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coffini said Britain had no “credible” proposal on the safety net.

“All we want is an agreement,” he said on arrival at the EU foreign ministers meeting in Helsinki. “If this situation changes, we will consider it in Dublin and, more importantly, it will form the basis for discussions in Brussels, but it has to be credible.”

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