As It Happens

Boris Johnson should resign over Supreme Court ruling, says Labour MP

Labour MP Stephen Doughty says U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has no choice but to resign after Britain's highest court ruled that his suspension of Parliament was unlawful and undemocratic.

Stephen Doughty says the U.K.'s Supreme Court decision is a 'devastating verdict' against the PM

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will prorogue Parliament all over again if he has to. (Yui Mok/PA Wire/Reuters)


Labour MP Stephen Doughty says U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has no choice but to resign after Britain's highest court ruled that his suspension of Parliament was unlawful and undemocratic.

The unanimous decision on Tuesday from the court's 11 justices means the U.K. Parliament will be sitting again on Wednesday. But Johnson says he's not afraid to prorogue Parliament all over again. 

Doughty spoke to As it Happens host Carol Off about the court ruling and what comes next. Here is part of their conversation.

Just how extraordinary is this ruling from your Supreme Court?

It is a truly momentous decision. And the clarity by which it was given, the fact it was unanimous, and the absolutely devastating verdict for the prime minister is something certainly that hasn't been seen, I think, in the last 100 years.

What people were looking for in the Supreme Court ruling was whether or not they would say what others had — that Boris Johnson had lied to the Queen. They didn't say that. So what do you make of that?

He clearly did, because ... they upheld the judgment of the Scottish court, which was very clear about that.

The fact is that, you know, he has dragged the monarch into one of the greatest constitutional crises in British history. 

Boris Johnson wants to make this all about Brexit. But by gagging Parliament — as it would be with Parliament in Canada — you are preventing Parliament from doing its job on so many other issues.

We were due to debate a bill on domestic violence. We were supposed to be talking about climate change, health care, education, pensions — so many issues. And those were prevented from taking place.

Doughty says Johnson should resign. (Submitted by Stephen Doughty )

But that's what Prime Minister Johnson said that he was preparing for — he was proroguing in order to get his ducks in order for a Queen's Speech. And now he says that's what he is going to do, right? Is that what's going to happen next?

What's going to happen next is that Parliament will return [Wednesday] because essentially the justices made very clear that the decision was null and void. The session of Parliament has not ended. We are still in session, and therefore we're going to carry on with our business as normal.

We will all be wanting to ask what on Earth has Boris Johnson been doing with these so-called negotiations? We've seen very little evidence of anything yet. And my fear is he still intends to push us out with a no-deal Brexit.

This is a man who simply thinks one rule applies for him and one rule applies for everybody else. And he's got a history — and I don't use these words very often — of lying.

He was fired from a job at a newspaper for making up stories, and he's got a history of this.

He needs to resign. He clearly is not a fit and proper person to be holding the office of prime minister.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, wants Brits to vote in a new Brexit referendum. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/The Associated Press)

Is Parliament frustrating his agenda? I mean, are you looking toward the possibility of entering an election? Is Labour doing that?

Well, an election may well come, and [Labour Leader] Jeremy Corbyn has just been making a speech to the Labour Convention about this, that we obviously want to have an election to get this Conservative government out of office.

But of course, you know, there are many, many things which need to happen over the days and weeks to come. And, you know, if Boris Johnson does come back with a deal, or Parliament decides to put a deal on the table, I think there's a better way of resolving this — which is putting a deal back to the public in a referendum, and actually taking the issue of Brexit away from an election. 

Will your party try to force a vote of no confidence?

That would normally be what you'd expect to happen. But there is a trap here that has been laid by Boris Johnson — which is that if we were to have an election before, we'll be in an election process before the extension to the Brexit process had been secured and granted by the European Union. Then he ... could crash us out during that process with no deal.

Most MPs see right through this, from all the parties, including many in his own, or at least the ones he's thrown out. And people are not going to fall for a trick by which we end in a situation of a no-deal Brexit, which would be a disaster for the U.K.

And I think all of us in Parliament — whatever our views on how you resolve Brexit; fundamentally, I would like to stay in the European Union — want to see a situation where it's the British people who have a final say on a deal to leave.

President Donald Trump meets with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. (Evan Vucci/The Associated Press)

You've just declared yourself as a Remainer. Don't you think it's incumbent on Jeremy Corbyn to declare what he thinks of Brexit, how he would vote, how he would campaign in a referendum, if he wants to actually be the prime minister?

He's been very, very clear about absolutely ruling out a no-deal Brexit, absolutely ruling out a deal that's brought by Boris Johnson, and absolutely ruling in having a final say opportunity for the public to vote on this in a second referendum. And I think that's absolutely right.

But as I said, we may find ourselves in situations in the days to come where that is a moot point because we have a deal on the table, or we need to decide what to do about that and whether it should proceed.

But your party has succeeded in passing a law that would supposedly prevent the United Kingdom from crashing out without a deal. Boris Johnson says that you're going to leave the EU on Oct. 31, with or without. So is there something Boris Johnson knows that you don't?

[Former prime minister] Theresa May claimed we were going to leave in March and April. And Boris Johnson has claimed all sorts of things in his life which are proven not to be true — because, as I said, the man is a categorical liar.

He can carry on with all the bluff and bluster he wants. The fact is the law of the land is that unless he secures a deal through Parliament, he must request an extension. And therefore, Brexit will not take place on the 31st of October.

If he wants to have another run in with the Supreme Court, he's very welcome to try. But given his behaviour over the last few weeks, and given the judgment — the unanimous judgment — of the judges today, I think that would be a very unwise course for him to take.

We are all united that we want to stop a disastrous no-deal, and that's why that legislation was passed. And the prime minister needs to stop attacking the judges, stop attacking Parliament, and actually realize that he's not above the law and that he needs to comply with it.

Interview produced by Jeanne Armstrong. Q&A edited for length and clarity.


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