Brexit: Gina Miller's bid to stop UK Parliament suspension rejected

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Businesswoman Gina Miller says she is “very disappointed” at the the ruling

A legal challenge over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament has been rejected in the High Court.

The case was brought by businesswoman Gina Miller, who argued the move was “an unlawful abuse of power”.

Rejecting Ms Miller’s case, Lord Justice Burnett said she could immediately appeal because of the important points of law at stake.

The appeal is expected to be heard at the Supreme Court on 17 September.

Ms Miller said she was “very disappointed with the judgment”.

She added: “We feel it is absolutely vital that Parliament should be sitting. We are therefore pleased that the judges have given us permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, which we will be doing, and they feel that our case has the merit to be handed up.”

A similar legal challenge heard at Edinburgh’s Court of Session on Wednesday also failed.

The prime minister announced on 28 August he wanted to shut down Parliament, a process known as proroguing, for five weeks ahead of a Queen’s Speech on 14 October.

His political opponents argued at the time that Mr Johnson’s aim was to avoid parliamentary scrutiny and to stop them passing legislation that would prevent the UK leaving the European Union without a deal on 31 October.

The UK government insisted this was not the case and said the aim of proroguing Parliament was to allow Mr Johnson to set out his legislative plans in the Queen’s Speech while still allowing sufficient time for MPs to debate Brexit.

A bill designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit has since been passed by MPs and is expected to gain royal assent before the shutdown next week.

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Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, centre, President of the Queen’s Bench Division Dame Victoria Sharp and Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton heard the case in London

In 2017, Gina Miller won a case which stopped ministers triggering the Article 50 process – by which the UK leaves the EU – without a vote in Parliament.

The latest case brought by Ms Miller was supported by a number of other parties, including former prime minister Sir John Major.

During the hearing, Lord Pannick QC said prorogation breached the legal principle of Parliamentary sovereignty.

He said the PM’s decision was “extraordinary” – both because of the “exceptional length” of the suspension and because Parliament would be “silenced” during the critical period leading up to the 31 October deadline.

Mr Johnson’s lawyers argued prorogation was a political, not a legal, matter.

Rejecting the case, Lord Burnett said: “We have concluded that, whilst we should grant permission to apply for judicial review, the claim must be dismissed.”

The three judges are expected to give their reasons for dismissing the case in writing next week.

What other legal challenges are taking place?

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Media captionLord Doherty: “This is political territory and decision making which cannot be measured against legal standards.”

In Scotland, a group of politicians are attempting to overturn a court ruling made on Wednesday that Mr Johnson’s plan to shut down parliament ahead of Brexit is, in fact, legal.

Lord Doherty, sitting at the Court of Session, said the prime minister had not broken any laws by asking the Queen for a five-week suspension as it was for Parliament and the electorate to judge the prime minister’s actions – not the courts.

The group of more than 70 largely pro-Remain politicians, headed by SNP MP Joanna Cherry, argues that Mr Johnson is exceeding his powers and attempting to undermine democracy by avoiding parliamentary scrutiny before the UK leaves the EU on 31 October.

After Lord Doherty’s ruling, a UK government spokesman said: “We welcome the court’s decision and hope that those seeking to use the judiciary to frustrate the government take note and withdraw their cases.”

In Belfast, a campaigner for victims of the Troubles is also bringing a case on Friday arguing that a no-deal exit from the EU could jeopardise the Northern Ireland peace process.

The lawyers of Raymond McCord – whose son was murdered by the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force in 1997 – argue no-deal would endanger the Good Friday Agreement and that suspending Parliament is unconstitutional.

At a preliminary hearing on Thursday, a lawyer for the government argued for a delay to the case, saying the Labour-backed anti no-deal Brexit bill had “changed the paradigm” and altered the need for an urgent judgment.

But Mr McCord’s lawyer said the case was ready to proceed and while it “looked as if” the bill would become law, “we don’t know”.