Parliamentary Sovereignty

So the UK supreme court by the unanimous decision of eleven judges has decided that the current attempted prorogation of Parliament is null and void, and in fact, therefore, never happened. That the justices in the Supreme Court are prepared to be so entirely categorical in their conclusions is surprising, perhaps unique in legal history. Legal judgements are often hedged about with caveats and provisos so that appellants might feel a crumb of comfort, but, if the summary of the findings by Lady Hale is indicative, there is precious room for manoeuvre here. Parliament is in session.

I feel comforted that the Scottish Judges in the Inner House of the Court of Session have been supported and endorsed in their findings. And now, perhaps, we can get back to the business of government.

Personally, I feel that our Queen, when asked to prorogue Parliament, would have been within her rights to tell our current PM to go back to his cronies and do his job within the constraints of Parliamentary procedure, fight his corner as he was paid to do, and not to lean on her to further his agendas. That our sovereign may be called upon to exercise her prerogative only once in a lifetime, and the fact that she almost invariably acts on the advice of her ministers, does not mean that, in such rare instances as this, her hands are tied. Prorogation is part of the Royal Prerogative, issuing from the Crown, and to whom we all look to keep a watchful eye on the relationships among the Houses of Commons and Lords, the Executive and the Judiciary. The Queen is not simply in place to follow orders or the expectations of her politicians. Without the Queen’s prerogative, what is her role in a constitutional monarchy?

It will be interesting to see what, if any, constitutional changes arise from this judgement. That the judges have acted quickly, carefully and in the interests of our democratic processes is most heartening. And we should all be mightily relieved that, at the last resort, a respect for law has prevailed. Even those who have sought to undermine Parliamentary sovereignty will have occasion to be grateful with this judgement.

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