A Scottish court has rejected a bid from campaigners to stall Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s efforts to prorogue parliament until a full hearing is conducted next week.
A group of MPs and peers from various parties joined forces to file a petition at Scotland’s highest civil court earlier this summer to prevent Johnson being able to suspend parliament.
On Thursday they called for an interim interdict to prevent Johnson from proroguing parliament until that hearing, originally scheduled for 6 September, but it has been rejected.
Major to take legal action
Anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller has also revealed she will be launching a separate legal challenge against the prorogation at a hearing next week where she will be adjoined by former Tory Prime Minister Sir John Major.
She said: “Court hearing re Boris Johnson proroguing parliament will be heard next Thursday 5th September. I will be adjoined by Sir John Major.”
Major said: “I promised that, if the Prime Minister prorogued parliament in order to prevent MPs from opposing his Brexit plans, I would seek judicial review of his action.
“In view of the imminence of the prorogation – and to avoid duplication of effort, and taking up the court’s time through repetition – I intend to seek the court’s permission to intervene in the claim already initiated by Gina Miller, rather than to commence separate proceedings.
“If granted permission to intervene, I intend to seek to assist the court from the perspective of having served in government as a minister and Prime Minister, and also in parliament for many years as a member of the House of Commons.
“I will be represented by The Rt Hon The Lord Garnier QC and Tom Cleaver, who will be instructed by Herbert Smith Freehills LLP.”
It comes as Judge Lord Doherty dismissed the bid to halt the prorogation at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, after listening to the campaigners’ lawyer and a legal representative from the UK government.
Doherty said: “I’m not satisfied that it has been demonstrated that there’s a need for an interim suspension or an interim interdict to be granted at this stage.
“A substantive hearing is set to place for Friday September 6, before the first possible date parliament could be prorogued.”
However, the Judge added that the hearing would be moved forward to Tuesday 3 September with the need for an outcome to be reached quickly.
He said: “Weighing consideration in the balance, it’s in the interest of justice that it proceeds sooner rather than later.”
More legal bids
A court in Northern Ireland is set to hear the same plea today from a lawyer representing anti-no-deal campaigners, while Miller is set to attempt the same at the High Court in London.
The challenges to halt Johnson’s plans come in the wake of the Queen’s approval of Johnson proroguing parliament for five weeks, commencing 10 September.
Following the court ruling in Scotland, a government spokesperson said: “As we have set out, the government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda, and MPs are not prevented from scrutinising our withdrawal from the EU.
“We are glad the court found against the interdict – there was no good reason to seek one, given the full hearing is due to take place next week, and the process of bringing the session to an end will not start until the week commencing 9 September.”
Labour MP Ian Murray, who is backing the legal action in Scotland, said: “This verdict means a full hearing has been fast-tracked to next week, which is now the most important week in modern British history.
“It is disappointing that we have to go to the courts to protect British democracy, but Boris Johnson’s attempt to silence the people’s representatives cannot go unchallenged.
“As well as this legal battle in the Court of Session, the campaign against a no-deal Brexit will also take place in the House of Commons.
“We must work tirelessly, across all parties and none, to fight against the devastation of a no-deal Brexit, fight for our democracy, and fight for the people to have a final say on Brexit.”