Wednesday, February 21

Bercow could be given power to recall MPs if PM refuses



John Bercow could bypass Boris Johnson and recall Parliament himself if the Prime Minister loses his legal battle over prorogation, the Supreme Court heard yesterday.

Britain’s top judges will give their verdict in the highly contentious case next week after three days of legal argument which finished on Thursday.

Lord Pannick QC, representing Remainer activist Gina Miller, suggested the court could find the prorogation unlawful but then leave it to Parliament to decide what happens next.

In that case, the Commons Speaker and his counterpart in the Lords may be entitled to re-open Parliament themselves, Lord Pannick said.

The Government has indicated it may try to prorogue again if it loses the case.

In his closing remarks yesterday Lord Pannick said: ‘The remedy we seek from the court is a declaration that the Prime Minister’s advice to Her Majesty was unlawful.

We would respectfully ask the court, if it is in our favour, to make such a declaration as soon as possible… because time is of the essence.

Lord Pannick said the proper course for the court in these unusual and difficult circumstances (is) to let Parliament sort out the problem.

The Speaker and Lord Speaker could take action to ensure that parliament reopens as soon as possible next week, he said.

The court could find that Parliament was never properly prorogued and so has remained in session all along.

However, it could also rule Mr Johnson’s actions unlawful without ordering a recall of MPs.

The Speaker has the power to do that, although he usually does so on the advice of the Government. But parliamentary rules have proven flexible in recent months and Mr Bercow has shown particular flexibility.

The Speaker has called the prorogation a constitutional outrage and repeated that claim on a visit to Zurich yesterday.

Mr Johnson’s lawyers argue that the suspension of Parliament was a political matter beyond the remit of the courts.

But his opponents say he misled the Queen and intended the prorogation to stop Parliament interfering in the Brexit process before October 31.