Johnson denies lying to Queen about suspension of UK Parliament

Johnson denies lying to Queen about suspension of UK Parliament

Boris Johnson has denied lying to the Queen in order to secure the suspension of Parliament.

Scotland’s highest civil court ruled on Wednesday that the five-week prorogation was unlawful because it was obtained for the “improper purpose of stymying Parliament”.

However, the Prime Minister insisted he had sought the suspension so that the Government could set out a new legislative programme in a Queen’s Speech on October 14.

Boris Johnson has denied lying to the Queen over the suspension of Parliament (Victoria Jones/PA)
Boris Johnson has denied lying to the Queen over the suspension of Parliament (Victoria Jones/PA)

Opposition MPs have argued that the real reason was to stop Parliament holding the Government to account over its Brexit plans.

But, asked during a visit to mark London International Shipping Week whether he had lied to the monarch in order to obtain the prorogation, Mr Johnson replied: “Absolutely not.”

He said the High Court in England had taken the opposite view to the Court of Session in Edinburgh and that the case would now be decided in the Supreme Court.

“The High Court in England plainly agrees with us but the Supreme Court will have to decide. We need a Queen’s Speech, we need to get on and do all sorts of things at a national level,” he said.

Opposition parties fear Mr Johnson is determined to take Britain out of the EU on October 31, despite the Benn Act, which says the Government must seek a further delay if there is no agreement on a deal with the EU.

The Prime Minister insisted he remained confident that it would be possible to reach a deal in time for it to be agreed at the EU summit on October 17 and 18.

“I’m very hopeful that we will get a deal, as I say, at that crucial summit. We’re working very hard – I’ve been around the European capitals talking to our friends,” he said.

“I think we can see the rough area of a landing space, of how you can do it – it will be tough, it will be hard, but I think we can get there.”

However, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said they were still waiting to see proposals from the UK side to resolve the fraught issue of the Northern Ireland backstop.

“We are still ready to examine objectively any concrete and legally operational proposals from the UK,” he told reporters in Brussels.

- Press Association

Opposition parties stepped up their demands for the immediate recall of Parliament after the Government released details on Wednesday of its Operation Yellowhammer no-deal preparations.

The document, released in response to a Commons motion passed on Monday before the House was suspended, warned of medical shortages, food price hikes and severe delays to cross-channel trade.

For Labour, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said it was essential MPs returned to Westminster so they could question ministers about the plans.

“This is more like emergency planning for war or a natural disaster,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“We cannot minimise this. It does not get more stark,

Mr Johnson sought to play down the significance of the paper, saying it represented a “worst-case scenario” and ministers had been “massively accelerating” their no-deal preparations since he entered No 10 in July.

“If we have to come out on October 31 with no-deal we will be ready and the ports will be ready and the farming communities will be ready, and all the industries that matter will be ready for a no-deal Brexit,” he said.

“What you’re looking at here is just the sensible preparations – the worst-case scenario – that you’d expect any government to do.”

The Prime Minister also insisted he had no quarrel with the Court of Session judges who ruled the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful.

The Government faced accusations it was trying to undermined the judiciary after No 10 sources were quoted as suggesting the Scottish courts were “politically biased”.

Mr Johnson said: “The British judiciary, the United Kingdom judiciary, is one of the great glories of our constitution – they are independent.

“Believe me, around the world people look at our judges with awe and admiration so I’m not going to quarrel or criticise the judges.”

PM urged to recall Parliament after Operation Yellowhammer documents released

Johnson denies lying to Queen about suspension of UK Parliament

Boris Johnson has faced renewed pressure to recall the UK Parliament after the Prime Minister was forced to reveal that a no-deal Brexit could trigger medical shortages, food price rises and major cross-channel trade delays.

The opposition seized on the release of Operation Yellowhammer assessments of the impact of leaving the EU without an agreement to insist MPs return to Westminster.

It comes after Scottish judges branded the suspension of Parliament “unlawful”.

While releasing analysis on impacts of no deal, the Government refused to comply with a similar Commons demand to make public personal messages from special advisers regarding the controversial five week prorogation of Parliament.

The move came as judgment was due on Thursday in a legal challenge that argued the Government’s Brexit strategy will damage the Northern Ireland peace process.

The “reasonable worst case planning assessments” of a no-deal exit which were released at the demand of MPs showed that major hold-ups at channel ports could occur, along with “significant” electricity price rises and a return to a hard border in Northern Ireland.

Operation Yellowhammer’s “reasonable worst case planning assumptions” in the event of a no-deal Brexit have been published (UK Government)
Operation Yellowhammer’s “reasonable worst case planning assumptions” in the event of a no-deal Brexit have been published (UK Government)

On food, the document warned that some fresh supplies will decrease and that “critical dependencies for the food chain” such as key ingredients “may be in shorter supply”.

It said these factors would not lead to overall food shortages “but will reduce the availability and choice of products and will increase price, which could impact vulnerable groups”.

The document also said: “Low-income groups will be disproportionately affected by any price rises in food and fuel.”

The analysis said the flow of cross-Channel goods could be reduced to 40% of current rates on day one, with “significant disruption lasting up to six months”.

“Unmitigated, this will have an impact on the supply of medicines and medical supplies,” it said.

“The reliance of medicines and medical products’ supply chains on the short straits crossing make them particularly vulnerable to severe extended delays.”

The document said: “There are likely to be significant electricity (price) increases for consumers.”

The release came after the Court of Session in Edinburgh found ministers had stopped MPs from sitting for the “improper purpose of stymying Parliament”.

It said advice given by ministers to the Queen which led to the five-week prorogation was therefore “unlawful and is thus null and of no effect”.

The Government immediately announced it was lodging an appeal against the ruling with the Supreme Court, with a hearing set for Tuesday.

An electronic road sign on the A2 in Gravesend warning of possible changes to EU paperwork post-Brexit (Yui Mok/PA)
An electronic road sign on the A2 in Gravesend warning of possible changes to EU paperwork post-Brexit (Yui Mok/PA)

The document’s assumptions are “as of August 2” this year, and it notes that day one after the scheduled EU exit on October 31 is a Friday, “which may not be to our advantage” and may coincide with the end of the October half-term school holidays.

It added: “Protests and counter-protests will take place across the UK and may absorb significant amounts of police resource.

“There may also be a rise in public disorder and community tensions.”

The Government dossier said that on day one of a no-deal Brexit “between 50-85% of HGVs travelling via the short Channel Straits may not be ready for French customs.

“The lack of trader readiness combined with limited space in French ports to hold unready HGVs could reduce the flow rate to 40-60% of current levels within one day as unready HGVs will fill the ports and block flow.

“The worst disruption to the short Channel Straits might last for up to 3 months before it improves by a significant level to around 50-70%.”

The documents also cover the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)
The documents also cover the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

The partly redacted document says UK citizens travelling to and from the EU “may be subject to increased immigration checks at EU border posts” causing delays.

On Northern Ireland, the analysis indicated that the aim of avoiding a hard border may be “unsustainable”.

No deal could also “significantly” impact adult social care providers due to increasing staff and supply costs.

The document is very similar to one leaked last month, which the Government insisted was out of date.

The leaked information was marked a “base case” scenario, but the information released by the Government, part of which was redacted, was labelled a “worst-case scenario”.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: “These documents confirm the severe risks of a no deal Brexit, which Labour has worked so hard to block.

“It is also now more important than ever that Parliament is recalled and has the opportunity to scrutinise these documents and take all steps necessary to stop no deal.”

The document was released following a Commons motion, but a motion demanding the release of personal information was attacked by the Government.

In a letter to former attorney general Dominic Grieve, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, who is overseeing no-deal planning, said the Government was opposed to releasing electronic communications issued by named civil servants and Government special advisers regarding the suspension of Parliament.

The Minister said: “To name individuals without any regard for their rights or the consequences of doing so goes far beyond any reasonable right of Parliament under this procedure.

“It offends against basic principles of fairness and the civil service duty of care towards its employees.”

Mr Grieve said: “Even a partial release of the Yellowhammer documents is enough to show how deep the damage a no-deal exit from the EU would do.”

- Press Association

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