Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Prorogation of Parliament: Supreme Court to hear challenges

"The prorogation of Parliament is a prerogative act of the Crown. Just as Parliament can commence its deliberations only at the time appointed by the Queen, so it cannot continue them any longer than she pleases" - Erskine May at para 8.5.

That statement sets out the basic legal position relating to prorogation.  Prorogation is dealt with in greater detail by Graham Cowie in a House of Commons Library Briefing Paper - CBP8589. In practice, the prerogative power to prorogue parliament is exercisable

Friday, 13 September 2019

The European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act 2019

The Prime Minister said that "he would rather be dead in a ditch" than seek a further extension of UK membership of the EU and Michael Gove (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster), in an interview with Andrew Marr, refused to guarantee that government would obey legislation to block a no-deal Brexit - The Guardian 1 September 2019.

The European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act 2019 is now law and imposes certain duties relating to Brexit on Ministers including duties on the Prime Minister.

That Ministers are under an obligation

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Prorogation and the courts

England and Wales:

The High Court (Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division) - Lord Burnett CJ, Sir Terence Etherton MR and Dame Victoria Sharp (President QBD) held that the decision of the Prime Minister to advise Her Majesty the Queen to prorogue Parliament is not justiciable in Her Majesty’s courts-  - Judiciary - Gina Miller v Prime Minister and others [2019] EWHC 2381 (QB). 


In Scotland's Court of Session (Outer House) - Lord Doherty - reached

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Extraordinary times ~ Parliament 9 September 2019

Extraordinary times:

It is wholly inadequate to say that the political events of the last few days have been "utterly extraordinary." Even during the many turmoils since the end of World War 2 it is impossible to find a situation in which there has been this degree of breakdown in the trust required between government and parliament. Political actors have to be trusted to observe the laws and conventions underpinning the UK's uncodified and, at times, ill-defined constitutional arrangements. In particular, trust is crucial so that government respects the role of parliament and vice versa.


Suspicion was confirmed by

Thursday, 5 September 2019

4 September ~ What happened

Updated 6 September:

Proceedings in the House of Commons on 4 September 2019 included the passage of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 6) Bill (the No.6 Bill) through all its House of Commons stages. The Bill then proceeded to the House of Lords.  The Commons also held a vote, under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, for an early general election.


The Prorogation Order requires the prorogation of Parliament

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

3 September 2019 ~ What happened: minus the rhetoric!

Court of Session
On 3 September 2019, the House of Commons returned after its summer recess which commenced 25 July. The day also saw the substantive hearing in Scotland's Court of Session of a judicial review relating to the prorogation of Parliament.

House of Commons:

An application to hold an emergency debate was made by Sir Oliver Letwin MP who said - " ...in the light of the Government’s decision to prorogue Parliament next week it has become an urgent matter for Parliament, and particularly this House, to discuss whether it can accept a no-deal exit. I therefore ask you to grant an urgent debate under Standing Order No. 24."  The Speaker

Monday, 2 September 2019

Notable cases (7) ~ M v Home Office

M v Home Office [1993] UKHL 5, [1993] 3 WLR 433, [1994] 1 AC 377 was decided by the House of Lords in 1993.  The appeal gave rise to issues of constitutional importance.  The case concerned the breach of an injunction requiring the return to the UK of M who had been removed to Zaire. A finding of contempt was made against the Home Secretary, then Mr Kenneth Baker MP, but only in his official capacity and not his personal capacity. For the first time, a Minister of the Crown was held in contempt of court.

The House of Lords (Lords Keith, Templeman, Griffiths, Browne-Wilkinson, Woolf) rejected the proposition that the courts did not have power to enforce the law against a Minister of the Crown. Applications for judicial review were not 'proceedings against the Crown' for the purposes of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947: accordingly injunctive relief against a Minister or officer of the Crown is available in judicial review.

The most detailed speech

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Prorogation announced

Updated 4 September - additional link

Tuesday 27 August - A meeting of MPs took place on Tuesday (27 August) at Church House, Westminster and put forward a cross-party plan to use "whatever mechanism possible" to stop a no-deal Brexit being forced through - ITV News 27 August 2019.  The MPs agreed "on the urgency to act together to find practical ways to prevent no-deal ... "including the possibility of passing legislation and a vote of no confidence." The legislative route to stopping no-deal was preferred over the alternative but securing parliamentary time for such legislation is difficult given that the government normally has control over the agenda of the House of Commons.

The Church House meeting

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Exit Day and repeal of ECA 1972

Exit Day 31 October:

On 10 April 2019 Prime Minister Theresa May secured an extension of "Exit Day" to 31 October 2019 - see Council Conclusions and Council Decision 10 April.  The Council Decision fixed "Exit Day" as a matter of EU law.

The definition of "Exit Day" in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 s.20 was duly amended by the European Union (Withdrawal) (Exit Day) (Amendment) (No2) Regulations 2019  to 31 October 2019 at 11 pm.  This brought UK domestic law into alignment with the position in EU law.


Thursday, 15 August 2019

The Peterloo Massacre - Bicentenary

"In the name of Him who made us, We will perish, or be free" - Samuel Bamford

On Monday 16 August 1819, St. Peter's Field, Manchester was the site of what is known as the Peterloo Massacre.  On the orders of Magistrates for the Counties of Lancaster and Chester*, cavalry, sabres drawn, rode into a crowd of some 60,000 who had gathered to call for reform of parliamentary representation. An estimated 18 people, including four women and a child, died from sabre cuts and trampling. Nearly 700 men, women and children received serious injuries.

The word Peterloo

Tuesday, 13 August 2019


Updated 31 August 2019

13 August 2019 - 79 days to Brexit.  £1 = 1.08 Euro.  £1 = 1.21 US $.  The clock continues to run down to Exit Day.

Court of Session - Scotland:  

Back in the news is the possibility that the Prime Minister might secure a prorogation of Parliament in order to prevent the House of Commons stopping a "no-deal" (crash-out) Brexit - BBC News 13 August 2019.  A legal challenge to try to prevent such a prorogation is underway before Scotland's Court of Session.  The petition, brought by the Good Law Project, is supported by more than 70 MPs and peers.  The project seeks

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Could Parliament stop "no-deal" Brexit

6 August 2019 - 86 days to Brexit.  £1 = 1.09 Euro.  £1 = 1.22 US $.  The clock continues to run down to Exit Day.
The possibility that the House of Commons may wish to prevent a no-deal (or, more accurately, a "Crash-out") Brexit taking place on 31 October is producing further constitutional talking points.  In March 2019 the House was opposed to no-deal - BBC News 14 March 2019.  The new Prime Minister has said that Brexit will take place on 31 October “whatever the circumstances” - The Guardian 5 August.  A no-deal Brexit entails leaving a deeply-integrated and barrier-free market with 27 other member States and over 510m people.  The UK will also leave Euratom.  No-deal will also have serious consequences in other areas such as Police and Judicial Co-operation - Law Society February 2019.

This previous post (1 August 2019) reported

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Emergency at Toddbrook Reservoir, Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire

Updates at the end -

Recent rainfall has certainly been exceptionally intense and has threatened the dam wall at Toddbrook Reservoir at Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire.   A huge effort is taking place to try to prevent the wall collapsing including use of a Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter assisting with emergency efforts (pictured) - Metro News 3 August 2019.

Toddbrook Reservoir opened in 1838 and is located near the south-western part of the town with the dam wall facing the town.  The present situation is not the first at Toddbrook.  As shown in the following paper, heavy rain in 1964 also caused serious concern.  Remedial works

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Brexit uncertainty

1st August 2019 - 91 days to Brexit.  £1 = 1.10 Euro.  £1 = 1.21 US $.

The lack of clarity over Brexit is deeply concerning for everyone.  Will there be a deal or will it be a no-deal Brexit?  If a no-deal Brexit then what will happen?  If no-deal, what will be the situation in Northern Ireland regarding the border?  What might happen in Parliament when it eventually emerges from its lengthy summer recess?

No-deal preparation:

HM Treasury has announced

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Manchester Arena ~ Inquest Pre-Hearings

On the evening of Monday 22nd May, at 22.33 hrs BST, a bomb was detonated in the foyer of the Manchester Arena – BBC News 23rd May.   22 people were killed and over 100 injured (many seriously) – BBC News 27th May.   The bomb was detonated as people were leaving the Arena following a concert by US singer Ariana Grande.

The attacker was identified by police as Salman Ramadan Abedi – (see BBC 26th May) - a 22-year-old Briton of Libyan ancestry who detonated a shrapnel-laden improvised explosive device at one of the exits as concertgoers were leaving.  Abedi was born in Manchester in 1994, grew up in the Whalley Range area and lived in Fallowfield.  It appears that he was known to British Security Services but was not regarded as high risk – The Guardian 23rd May. 

A number of individuals were arrested

Friday, 26 July 2019

Insane automatism and driving

On 25 July, in the House of Commons, the death of 15 year old Katelyn Dawson was raised by Mr Barry Sheerman MP (Huddersfield).  Mr Sheerman asked the Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg MP) -

"On 10 January 2018, Katelyn Dawson was killed and two other women were very badly injured when a white BMW crashed into a queue of people as Katelyn was going to school. She was 15 and an only child. Could we have an early debate on what is going on in the Crown Prosecution Service? It has been many months and now the Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to bring any charge against the driver ....  He got off because the CPS thought he was going to argue insane automatism, which is increasingly being used by wealthy and well-connected people to get off charges when they kill people."

Thursday, 25 July 2019

A new government forms

The ritual transfer of executive power took place on Wednesday 24 July 2019.  The outgoing Prime Minister (Theresa May) attended the House of Commons for her final Prime Minister's Questions and then went to Buckingham Palace to tender her resignation to HM The Queen.  Mrs May will have advised the Queen to appoint Boris Johnson, the successful candidate in the Conservative Party leadership election.  Mr Johnson then attended the palace and was duly appointed Prime Minister.  This time-honoured ritual emphasised the constitutional facts that HM The Queen is Head of State and that the government is Her Majesty's Government.

Mr Johnson returned to No.10 Downing Street, spoke briefly

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Boris Johnson becomes Conservative Party leader

With exactly 100 days to go before the United Kingdom leaves the European Union (EU), the Conservative and Unionist Party announced that Boris Johnson is to be party leader.   Mr Johnson won 92,153 votes (66%) to Mr Hunt's 46,656 (34%).

On Wednesday 24 July, the Queen's first visitor will be the outgoing Prime Minister - Theresa May.  Mr Johnson will then visit the palace to be formally appointed as Prime Minister. 

During a lengthy campaign, Mr Johnson made clear that he plans to lead the UK out of the EU by 31 October 2019 - i.e. to "deliver Brexit."   His stance has been that this will take place with or without a withdrawal agreement.

Appointment of Prime Minister:

In law, the Queen may

Friday, 19 July 2019

Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill - (2)

An earlier post looked at the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill when it was before the House of Commons.   The principal purpose of the Bill is to extend the period for forming an Executive under section 1(1) of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 and to impose a duty on the Secretary of State to report on progress towards the formation of an Executive in Northern Ireland.

The reporting requirements are in Clause 3 of the Bill.   Originally this was a short clause of just 3 subsections.  It has now expanded to 21 subsections.

On Thursday 18 July,

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

European Parliament 16 July 2019 ~ Brexit and no deal

On 16 July 2019 the European Parliament narrowly approved the nomination of German politician Ursula von der Leyen as President of the European Commission.  The Parliament has 751 members.  733 votes were cast and those divided 327 against and 383 in favour - (51% of the total number of MEP or 52.25% of the votes cast).

Ursula von der Leyen was nominated by the European Council at the Council meeting held on 30 June - previous post 3 July 2019.  See HERE for background to the nomination.