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Suffolk MPs react after Supreme Court finds Boris Johnson acted unlawfully in shutting Parliament

PUBLISHED: 11:30 24 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:15 24 September 2019

Protesters celebrating outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. Picture:  Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Protesters celebrating outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

MPs and Lords were today coming to terms with the news that the Supreme Court decided Parliament should be recalled because the prorogation was unlawful.

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge was in his Westminster office when the news came through - but was still trying to work out what its implications were.

He said: "This is clearly an historic judgement, but I really cannot say any more than that at the moment. I have a full diary of events - I'm due in Shotley this evening.

"How these events will be affected I don't know. It is far too early to say anything more at present."

Speaker John Bercow has now recalled Parliament and the House of Commons is due to sit again at 11am on Wednesday."

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter was waiting to see what would happen: "We would normally be in recess now anyway because of party conferences.

"If these were normal times I would not expect The Speaker to call us back until after the conferences, on October 7. "

Dr Poulter said that governments did sometimes lose judicial reviews into their policy - but accepted the fact that The Queen's role in this case made the matter much more serious.

He said: "I expect there will be calls for the Prime Minister to go from our political opponents (Jeremy Corbyn has already called on Boris Johnson to "consider his position") but we shall have to wait to see what happens."

Dr Poulter said the decision showed the need for the country to have a written constitution and for the Fixed Term Parliament Act to be repealed to allow a general election to be held.

His support for a written constitution was backed by Ipswich Labour MP Sandy Martin: "This shows the need for a major change. I don't know it HAS to be a written constitution, although I would support that, but we do have to ensure that the executive cannot decide when parliament should or should not sit."

Mr Martin said the court decision showed the Prime Minister and his cabinet should all resign because they were incapable of governing the country.

And he was ready to return to Westminster from the Labour Party conference in Brighton. He said: "If we hear that parliament will be sitting at 4.30pm this afternoon, we will all be on the next train to London."

Clacton Conservative MP Giles Watling is also preparing to return to the House of Commons tomorrow. He said he is no legal expert - so could not comment on the future of the Prime Minister.

He said: "As a backbencher I don't really know what all this means, but I will be back in Westminster to see what happens. It's a bit of a case of wait and see - but I suspect we won't have to wait too long to see what happens."

He did think the court judgement makes is more likely that a general election will be held this year in an attempt to clear the parliamentary logjam.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous is another Conservative still digesting the implications of the court's ruling. He did not think it immediately spelt the end of the current government - but did hasten a general election.

He said: "We keep finding ourselves in these difficult positions. I think we now do all need to have an election. A lot of people thought it would be early next year. Now I think it will be this year."

He is joining his colleagues on the way back to Parliament.

The Conservative conference is due to take place in Manchester next week. Party chairman and Braintree MP James Cleverly tweeted to say it was definitely going ahead - but there is likely to be a change to its schedule.

Harwich and North Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said the judge's decision raised serious questions over the role of parliament and the government. He said: "The judgement has been accepted by the Prime Minister although he has made it clear he profoundly disagrees with it."

He did not think the judgement would lead to the end of Mr Johnson's Premiership: "The House of Commos could vote him out if they wanted to. They don't want to do that - but they don't want to let the government get on with its work!"

We contacted other MPs who did not respond:

Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey: contacted office but no response.

West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock: contacted office but no response.

Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill: Text message sent but no response.

Colchester MP Will Quince: Text message but no response.

Witham MP Priti Patel: Office responded to our e-mail saying she would not be commenting.

Delivering the judgement in the Supreme Court, the president of the Court Lady Hale said: "The court is bound to conclude therefore that the decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions.

She added the prorogation was "void and of no effect", saying: "Parliament has not been prorogued" and said the speakers of the Houses of Commons and Lords "can take immediate steps to enable each house to meet as soon as possible".

Mr Johnson is currently in New York for the meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Speaking in New York, the Prime Minister said: "Obviously this is a verdict that we will respect and we respect the judicial process.

"I have to say that I strongly disagree with what the justices have found. I don't think that it's right but we will go ahead and of course Parliament will come back."

The Prime Minister continued: "But I think the most important thing is we get on and deliver Brexit on October 31 and clearly the claimants in this case are determined to frustrate that and to stop that.

"I think it would be very unfortunate if Parliament made that objective, which the people want, more difficult but we will get on."

The House of Commons said in a statement: "The House service's primary responsibility is to ensure the smooth running of parliamentary business.

"We are considering the implications of the Supreme Court's judgment for Parliament and will provide further information as soon as we can."

Addressing the Labour Party conference in Brighton, Mr Corbyn said: "It shows that the Prime Minister has acted wrongly in shutting down Parliament.

"It demonstrates contempt for democracy and an abuse of power by him. The Supreme Court, therefore, passes the baton to the speaker to recall Parliament.

"I will be in touch immediately to demand that Parliament is recalled so that we can question that prime minister, demand that he obeys the law that has been passed by Parliament and recognise that our Parliament is elected by our people to hold our Government to account.

"A Labour Government want to be held to account. We wouldn't bypass democracy.

"And I invite Boris Johnson in the historic words to consider his position."

But Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has called the judgment "an absolute disgrace".

Pressed on whether Boris Johnson should resign, Mr Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) said: "No, we need Boris to be strong."

"It's the worst possible outcome for our democracy. I think what we've got is a Parliament that's completely out of step with the sentiment of the country, they're holding our democracy to ransom, they're completely ignoring the vote we had in 2016 to leave the European Union - it's an absolute disgrace as far as I'm concerned.

"What we're going to see now is the Speaker effectively taking control of Parliament and playing to the remainers' tune until 31 October when he resigns.

"We've got a zombie Parliament that won't go back to the people and be held to account," he concluded.

Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the judges' decision proved Boris Johnson was "not fit to be Prime Minister".

She said: "The court have found what we all knew all along, Boris Johnson has again proven he is not fit to be Prime Minister.

"This shutdown was an unlawful act designed to stop Parliament doing its job and holding the Government to account.

"Given this verdict, Parliament should be sitting so that we can continue to question the Conservative Government on their disastrous Brexit plans.

"This verdict has been unanimously agreed by experienced judges who have considered the case on its merits, acting as impartial guardians of our democratic system.

"The rule of law is an important pillar of our democracy, and those looking to use this opportunity as an excuse to attack these judges would be not only attacking them, but also the entire principle of our legal system."

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