John Bercow, the Speaker, could be given the power to recall Parliament against Boris Johnson’s wishes if the Prime Minister loses a court case over prorogation and fails to comply. The Supreme Court will announce next week whether the five-week prorogation was unlawful, but there was confusion on Thursday over who will recall MPs, and when, if the Government loses the case. There are five possible decisions the court could make, ranging from an acceptance that judges have no right to intervene in prorogation to a ruling that Parliament has not been legally prorogued and is therefore still in session.
John Bercow could recall parliament next week without the consent of the prime minister if Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament is found to be illegal, the Supreme Court was told yesterday. Lord Pannick, QC, who is representing the businesswoman Gina Miller, said judges could declare that Mr Johnson had acted “unlawfully” in proroguing parliament and recommend that MPs and peers be recalled. He said that Mr Bercow, the Speaker of the Commons, and Lord Fowler, the Lord Speaker, could bypass Downing Street and recall parliament on the basis of the court’s recommendation.
THE SUPREME COURT has concluded its third and final day of the hearing into whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted lawfully in proroguing parliament. Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, has confirmed a decision will be made “early next week”. The court was hearing appeals arising out of two separate challenges in England and Scotland – which produced different outcomes – over the Prime Minister’s advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks until October 14. At the High Court in London, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and two other judges rejected businesswoman Gina Miller’s challenge, finding that the prorogation was “purely political” and not a matter for the courts.
Boris Johnson could refuse to recall parliament even if the Supreme Court rules that his decision to suspend it was unlawful, the government has said. Speaking shortly before the 11 judges hearing the case retired to consider their verdict on Thursday, government lawyers told the court that a ruling against the prime minister did not necessarily mean parliament would be allowed to resume sitting. And even if the entire prorogation is declared void, Mr Johnson would be entitled to simply ask the Queen to suspend parliament again, they said.
The Supreme Court will rule early next week on whether it was legal for Boris Johnson to shut Parliament down. And Government lawyers warned the Prime Minister could prorogue Parliament for a second time even if the court rules against them. The government’s lawyers Sir James Eadie and Lord Keen have set out how they will respond to a range of possible rulings by the court. One possible scenario is that the 11 judges find this suspension was unlawful, but their reasoning leaves open the possibility of proroguing Parliament for the same period in a lawful way. The document says: “In that scenario, the court would and could not make any order purporting to require Parliament to be reconvened… Parliament would remain prorogued.”
Parliament should be allowed to reassemble next week, the supreme court has been urged, as the legal battle over Boris Johnson’s five-week suspension threatened to escalate into a constitutional crisis over who has authority to recall MPs and peers. At the end of the third and final day of an emergency hearing over the lawfulness of the prime minister’s advice to the Queen to suspend debates, the 11 justices were asked to encourage the Speakers of the Commons and Lords to reconvene the parliamentary session. In his closing submissions, Lord Pannick QC, representing the legal campaigner and businesswoman Gina Miller, said that if the supreme court found that Johnson had acted unlawfully but he declined to end the suspension of parliament then “in those circumstances we believe it would be open to the Speaker and Lord Speaker to reassemble parliament … as soon as possible next week”.
A decision is expected “early next week” on whether Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was lawful. It came as the three-day Supreme Court hearing into the hugely controversial suspension concluded on Thursday. Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, said in her closing remarks: “I must repeat that this case is not about when and on what terms the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. “The result of this case will not determine that. We are solely concerned with the lawfulness of the Prime Minister’s decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament on the dates in question.
Boris Johnson today refused to rule out proroguing Parliament again if he lost the landmark case at the Supreme Court and said: ‘I will wait to see what transpires.’ A bombshell Government legal document today also revealed the Prime Minister may try to resist recalling MPs straight away if the crunch legal battle in Britain’s highest court goes against him. The Prime Minister was on Salisbury Plain with the Army today where he declined to rule out suspending Parliament again if he lost the Supreme Court case. He said: ‘I have the greatest respect for the judiciary in this country.
The Remainer law to stop a No Deal Brexit is ‘the law of the land’ and a cliff-edge exit on October 31 is out of the question unless Parliament supports it, John Bercow has said. The outgoing Speaker, who was accused of bending Commons rules to help the law pass, said any attempt to get around it to deliver Brexit would be the same as ‘robbing a bank’ in order to give the money to charity. Speaking at the University of Zurich, he said a second referendum ‘could happen’ and suggested it might be time for Britain to have a written constitution.
Outgoing speaker of the British House of Commons John Bercow would not rule out a second referendum to solve the country’s Brexit impasse, he told an audience in Zurich on Thursday. “We could leave the European Union with a deal, without a deal if that was the explicit choice of Parliament or we could resolve to seek an extension of Article 50 with a view to a mechanism to resolve the matter,” Bercow said about the options facing Britain as it struggles to implement a 2016 vote to quit the EU. That could involve further negotiations, an election or another public vote, Bercow said.
Jean-Claude Juncker has said the EU can agree a new Brexit deal by Oct 31 as it emerged Boris Johnson wants a “take it or leave it” offer from Brussels. Amid increasing optimism in Downing Street that a deal is within reach, the European Commission president also said he was not “emotionally attached” to the Irish backstop and that it could be ditched. There are growing signs that the details of a deal could be hammered out when the Prime Minister meets EU leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York next week, which will be attended by Arlene Foster, the DUP leader.
BORIS JOHNSON’s hopes of an end to the Brexit deadlock were dramatically boosted last night when Jean-Claude Juncker said: “We can have a deal.” In a surprise intervention, the European Commission President signalled his readiness to consider the Prime Minister’s new proposals for a revised Withdrawal Agreement. He also admitted that a no-deal divorce would have “catastrophic consequences” for the EU. Mr Juncker spoke out after Government officials confirmed that they have presented a draft blueprint of alternative plans for the Northern Irish border to EU negotiators.
BORIS Johnson has defied a fresh EU deadline to publish his Brexit deal plan as he targets “10 intensive days” in October for a breakthrough instead. The PM was served with a new ultimatum of September 30 to come forward with his long-promised blueprint to replace the Irish backstop, with Finnish leader Antti Rinne threatening it would be “game over” for a deal if not. But Downing Street shrugged that off as another Brussels trick to ramp up the pressure. A No10 spokesman said Mr Johnson would produce his proposals “when we are ready, not according to an artificial deadline”.
Jean-Claude Juncker has handed Boris Johnson an unexpected lifeline, saying he thinks it’s possible for the UK and EU to reach a Brexit deal. But he said he didn’t know whether the chances of a deal being hatched before the Halloween deadline were better than 50/50. The outgoing European Commission President’s intervention came just hours after Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told a meeting of business leaders in Madrid the EU should let Britain solve the Northern Ireland border issue after leaving the bloc.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay is to hold talks with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, later. It comes after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said a new Brexit deal could still be reached before the 31 October deadline. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he did not want to “exaggerate progress” but some was being made. However, Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, said there was still a “big gap” between the two sides.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay will meet the EU’s chief negotiator later as hopes build that both sides could be close to a Brexit deal. Mr Barclay will head to Brussels for talks with Michel Barnier, when the pair will “take stock” of progress so far, according to his department. It comes after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Sky News on Thursday that “we can have a deal” on Brexit. Mr Juncker said a no-deal Brexit would have “catastrophic consequences” and said he was doing “everything to get a deal”.
EU countries are unprepared for Britain leaving the bloc without a deal next month, the Brexit secretary claimed yesterday, as he called for a “creative and flexible” approach to negotiations. Stephen Barclay said that Ireland could suffer shortages of medicines and food while businesses in other EU countries would face significant disruption. He questioned claims by the European Commission that the EU was fully prepared for a chaotic Brexit, warning that there was a difference “between having legislation in place and operational preparedness”.
Downing Street has hit back hard at EU demands for Britain to hand over its backstop replacement proposals by the end of September as the government said it would formally set out its plans ‘when we are ready’. Finnish PM Antti Rinne and French president Emmanuel Macron reportedly agreed yesterday that the UK needed to submit a written offer within the next 11 days or face the increased likliehood of a No Deal Brexit. But Number 10 said today it had no intention of complying with what it described as an ‘artificial deadline’ as relations between the two sides worsened.
Boris Johnson’s Brexit negotiators have so far only presented the EU with a draft of the withdrawal agreement with the backstop scrubbed out, UK government sources have confirmed. In a move that has caused tensions with EU leaders, Johnson’s team are refusing to put forward a written proposal to Brussels at this stage for fear it will be rejected out of hand or publicly rubbished. Instead, they want to wait until almost the last minute before the October summit before presenting a plan to the EU, with just two weeks before the UK is due to leave the bloc.
The EU has set Britain a test it “cannot meet” with its demands to see a replacement for the Irish backstop, the Brexit secretary has said. Stephen Barclay said the UK should be given another year to find a new policy for the Northern Ireland border. The intervention comes as Downing Street said it would not be bound by an “artificial deadline” in talks. “We are told the UK must provide legally operative text by the 31 October,” the cabinet minister Mr Barclay said in a speech in Madrid on Thursday.
Labour has tried to head off a bitter battle over its constitution by rubbishing claims it wants to re-write the totemic section that marked the party’s split from socialism under Tony Blair. A senior party source described as completely untrue a report in The Times that Labour’s ruling body has set up a working group to look into re-drafting clause four. The clause was originally drawn up in 1917 to commit Labour to “secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry” on the basis of “common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange”.
Police officers are texting middle-class drug users when their dealers’ phones are seized, amid growing fears that they are encouraging child exploitation. Forces can apply for court orders to have suppliers’ phones disconnected. They are also messaging the contacts they find, telling them that the number is linked to “the supply of illegal drugs”. Detective Superintendent Tim Champion, deputy head of the national county lines co-ordination centre, told The Times: “Middle-class drug users are fuelling the drug trade.
Police officers are texting numbers found on phones seized from drug dealers to try and target middle-class users. Sussex Police have begun sending the texts to warn potential drug users about child exploitation in the trade. The texts are sent after the force successfully applies for a court order to disconnect a drug dealers’ phone. The Times reports that the texts say: ‘We have blocked a drug dealer’s telephone number from taking any more calls and the number we have texted has previously made contact with the line.’
Young adults taking Class A drugs including cocaine and ecstasy have driven overall use to record levels. A rise in drug use across England and Wales among people aged between 16 and 59 led to the highest recorded total, with the sharpest increase among adults in their early twenties, according to a Home Office report. Experts said that the surge had been driven by the use of cocaine and ecstasy. Within the 16-59 age range, 3.7 per cent, or 1.3 million people, took Class A drugs in 2018-19, up from 3.5 per cent the year before, and the highest since records began in 1996.
A record 1.3million people took hard drugs last year as the use of cocaine and ecstasy continued to rise, official figures revealed yesterday. Some 3.7 per cent of Britons aged 16 to 59 reported taking Class A drugs over the course of 2018/19 – up from 3.5 per cent the year before and the highest rate since figures were first estimated in 1996. Increasing rates of cocaine use and a revival of ecstasy led 550,000 of those aged 16 to 24 – 8.7 per cent or one in 12 – to take at least one Class A drug in 2018/19. It was the highest level since the 8.9 per cent recorded in 2003, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales.
County lines drug gangs have begun setting up children to be excluded from school so that they can be lured into crime more easily, new research shows. More than 4,000 people in London have been recruited to networks reaching 41 counties, according to a study published by the mayor, Sadiq Khan. It showed that people from the ages of 11 to 62 had been drawn into county lines, in which city gangs use vulnerable mules to sell drugs in smaller towns. Victims referred to a programme to combat the gangs included a boy who was set up for exclusion from school.
Criminals have recruited thousands of children for county lines drug gangs to distribute substances across the country. More than 4,000 Londoners have been recruited with networks spreading across 41 counties. Research released by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan shows that thousands of people aged between 11 and 62 have been drawn into so-called county lines gangs. The criminal networks deliberately target children and vulnerable adults to courier drugs from urban bases out to customers across the country, running phone lines to take orders.
The number of patients waiting for more than four hours in A&E after a decision has been made to admit them to hospital has increased by 1,400% since the Tories came to power. NHS England figures show the number of so-called ‘trolley waits’ has increased from 3,697 in August 2010 to 56,499 in August 2019. Across the whole year, there were 108,314 ‘trolley waits’ in 2011-12 – which rose to 625,678 in 2018-19. The government’s target is to admit 95% of patients within four hours. But they have not hit this target for four years.
Nearly one in five youngsters who stay in school until the age of 18 leave without basic qualifications, a report said yesterday. Despite these pupils completing 14 years of education, 18 per cent do not leave with at least five GCSEs at grades A* to C. The level of failure means nearly 100,000 young people entered adulthood last year without ‘proper’ exam results, the Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield said, hampering their chances of finding apprenticeships or good jobs. Her report stated: ‘These are children who will have spent 14 years in compulsory education, often having more than £100,000 of public money spent on their education, and yet are leaving the… system without basic benchmark qualifications.’
Thomas Cook’s chances of survival are in the balance as it struggles to meet a demand from Royal Bank of Scotland and its other banks for an extra £200 million of funding. The travel company risks going bust if it cannot secure the funds, which would force the government to launch the biggest peacetime repatriation of British citizens at an estimated cost of £600 million. It is understood Thomas Cook has held talks with ministers about contingency measures. A collapse would hit an estimated 150,000 UK holidaymakers as well as more than 500,000 customers in overseas source markets, mostly Germany and Scandinavia.
Thomas Cook was on the brink of collapse last night, plunging the holiday plans of hundreds of thousands of customers into turmoil. Despite battling to secure a rescue deal, the 178-year-old travel firm could go bust as early as Sunday, according to insiders at the company which is facing a £200million black hole. That would leave 180,000 customers stranded abroad – and dash the plans of hundreds of thousands of families who have booked Thomas Cook flights or holidays.