Geoffrey Cox hits out at parliament after Supreme Court defeat; Boris Johnson returns to UK — latest news
Cox: Government will comply with no-deal legislation
Cox: ‘This parliament is a disgrace’
The attorney general has worked himself up into a frenzy, lashing out at the parliament as “a disgrace”, members of the opposition as “turkeys” and the Labour front bench as “spineless”.
Geoffrey Cox lambasted the opposition for refusing to go to the polls – something they have said they will not do until a Brexit extension is secured.
They could vote no confidence at any time, but they are too cowardly. They could agree to a motion to allow this house to dissolve, but they are too cowardly.
This parliament should have the courage to face the electorate. But it won’t because so many of them are really all about preventing us leaving the EU. But the time is coming when even these turkeys won’t be able to prevent Christmas.
Rory Stewart, the former Tory MP who lost the whip this month, has reacted to the Attorney General’s attack on the current parliament:
Attorney General: Decision was not a ‘constitutional coup’
The Attorney General said he does not believe the Supreme Court’s decision was a “constitutional coup,” as Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg is reported to have said.
“I don’t believe that anybody does. These things can be said in the heat of rhetorical and poetical licence. But this was a judgment of the Supreme Court of a kind which was clear and definitive.”
Importantly, he also refused to rule out a further prorogation, guaranteeing only that there would be no further suspension that does not comply with the Supreme Court’s verdict. The implication here is that a shorter prorogation for a Queen’s Speech remains a possibility.
Cox: ‘We got it wrong’
Geoffrey Cox admitted the government “got it wrong” following the judgment of the Supreme Court, but argued his advice had been “sound advice at the time” and was supported by a number of judges up until the Supreme Court decision.
The attorney general is continuing to respond to a barrage of questions and criticism from MPs over his advice to the government that the prorogation of parliament was legal.
I accept we lost. We got it wrong on the judgement of the Supreme Court. But it was a respectable view on the law to take and that view was taken by 7 of the 11 judges who had opined up to the point of the Supreme Court.
Responding to a question from former Tory rebel Dominic Grieve, he said that had the prorogation that was proposed stretched from early September to the end of October, he would not have supported it and would have resigned from the government.
Lib Dems want to tighten legislation against no-deal Brexit
Speaking just before parliament reconvened, the Liberal Democrat’s leader Jo Swinson said her party’s priority is to “explore all options” to guarantee that no-deal is taken off the table.
Parliament has already passed legislation aimed at preventing the UK from crashing out of the EU on October 31.
Under the Benn Act — proposed by Labour MP Hilary Benn — the prime minister must demand an extension if he fails to secure parliamentary approval for a Brexit deal on or before Saturday October 19. But Ms Swinson said further work is needed to remove the threat of-no deal entirely.
She said parliament has shown it can be “innovative and inventive,” without giving specifics on possible mechanisms.
She also warned an early vote of no confidence against Boris Johnson’s government could result in Britain crashing out accidentally.
Attorney General weighing whether to release legal advice
The Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is taking questions from MPs, and has reacted to the government’s Supreme Court defeat.
He said he will consider “greater disclosure” of the legal advice offered to the government over proroguing parliament. “The matter is under consideration,” he said.
“If every time I lost a case I was called upon to resign I probably would never have had a practice. The government accepts the judgment and accepts that it lost the case. At all times the government acted in good faith, and in the belief that its approach was both lawful and constitutional.
Parliament is back in action.
Speaker John Bercow has kicked off today’s session in Westminster after the Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday brought an end to its hiatus.
The Speaker said the official record would be amended to reflect the ruling, showing parliament to have been adjourned rather than prorogued.
There will be no PMQs, he said. But there will be two urgent questions, followed by five ministerial statements.
Prime minister maintains confidence in attorney general
A Downing Street spokeswoman said the prime minister still had confidence in the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, whose legal advice Mr Johnson took when he decided to press ahead with the suspension — or prorogation — of parliament, reports Laura Hughes.
The spokeswoman added that Sir Geoffrey had not offered his resignation.
Prime minister arrives at Number 10
Boris Johnson has arrived at Downing Street from Heathrow.
Parliament is set to reconvene in the next 10 minutes, with a statement from the prime minister expected later today.
Two urgent questions selected
The FT’s Sebastian Payne writes:
Speaker John Bercow has granted two urgent questions today – both of which will be rather difficult for the government.
First the SNP’s Joanna Cherry has requested attorney general Geoffrey Cox come to explain his legal opinion on the advice given to the Queen on proroguing parliament.
Second, the Liberal Democrats’ Layla Moran will ask culture secretary Nicky Morgan to explain payments made to Hacker House, one of the companies owned by the prime minister’s friend Jennifer Arcuri, and how her department manages possible conflicts of interest.
These questions will be the first business in the Commons, followed by five oral statements, which are:
– Transport secretary Grant Shapps on the collapse of Thomas Cook;
– Cabinet office minister on Michael Gove on Brexit preparedness,;
– Foreign secretary Dominic Raab on Iran;
– A statement by the prime minister;
– And a business statement by leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg
Boris Johnson to address parliament – Labour whips office
The Labour party’s whips office has drawn up the order of the day in the House of Commons, which includes the prime minister Boris Johnson addressing parliament with an update.
Other statements on Wednesday include one from Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons. Michael Gove will add one on Brexit preparations and so-called operation yellowhammer, the name given to the government’s contingency plan to prepare for leaving the EU without a deal.
Grant Shapps will add a statement on Thomas Cook, the UK travel group that collapsed over the weekend.
From the official Twitter account of Labour’s whips’ Office in the House of Commons:
The eagle has landed
The prime minister’s RAF plane has touched down at Heathrow and his motorcade is currently being whisked through London towards parliament.
Boris Johnson had been in New York to meet world leaders at the UN Climate Change Summit. But the trip was cut short by the Supreme Court judgment, prompting him fly back to the UK overnight.
What is on the cards today?
MPs will be taking their seats in the chamber in an hour’s time, at 11:30am.
This is the Commons order paper as it stands for today.
A plethora of urgent questions applications have been made by lawmakers.
As parliament reconvenes later this morning many of you will (understandably) be trying to piece together where we stand in the grand scheme of things.
To that end, the FT’s Sebastian Payne, Claire Manibog and Kevin Wilson have put together this excellent scenario analysis laying out six different paths events could take from here.
Here are a few of the options:
Sterling retreats after day of drama at Supreme Court
Sterling pulled back close to its level of 24 hours earlier as MPs prepared to return to parliament the day after the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The pound fell 0.5 per cent against the dollar, recently trading at $1.2426. Still, that means it is approaching a 4 per cent rise since its month low of $1.1957. Against the euro it was recently 0.4 per cent lower at €1.1297.
MPs are expected back in the House of Commons in just over an hour’s time.
Fund manager Odey says court ruling ‘doesn’t matter’
The FT’s capital markets correspondent, Laurence Fletcher, writes:
Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, a prominent Brexiteer and supporter of Boris Johnson, told the Financial Times he believes the Supreme Court ruling will have little impact.
“I don’t think that matters,” said Mr Odey, who is the founder of Odey Asset Management. “The Supreme Court should have stayed out of this, but it doesn’t matter. We’re in a place where Boris is the only prime minister because they won’t get rid of him, and if they do then he’ll win [an election].”
“The longer parliament declines to have a general election, the more it becomes the enemy of the people. He [Boris Johnson] is basically getting people behind the idea of ‘let’s get out'” of the EU, he added.
Mr Odey said he expects Brexit to happen at the end of October, followed by a general election.
“I think in five-to-six weeks’ time he [Boris Johnson] will be in Parliament with a 100-seat majority,” he said.
Corbyn demands Johnson apologise to Queen
Jeremy Corbyn, opposition Labour party leader, said Boris Johnson should apologise to the Queen and the British people for what he’s done, reports Eoin McSweeney.
“He’s tried to shut down our democracy at a crucial time when people are very, very worried about what will happen on the 31st of October,” Mr Corbyn said on BBC 4’s Today programme.
Until it is clear that an application is made for an extension, the Labour leader will not put forward a motion of no-confidence.
Our priority is to prevent a no-deal exit on October 31.
At that point, when that has been achieved — the preventing of a no-deal exit — we will then be ready with a motion of no confidence
Labour’s Brexit position should there be a general election remains unchanged: a referendum with a choice of remaining in the EU or leaving with a Labour-negotiated deal.
On their campaign manifesto, targeting zero emissions by 2030 is a priority. “This is a massive international wake-up call.”
Mr Corbyn wants to see a “fair” taxation system that does not subsidise private schools while their charitable status should end.
Gove says government will ‘respect’ and ‘comply’ with court judgment
Michael Gove disagrees with the Supreme Court ruling and does not believe the government acted unlawfully in proroguing parliament, reports Eoin McSweeney.
Mr Gove, the minister in charge of no-deal Brexit planning, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the government will however “respect” and “comply” with the judgment and “absolutely respects the integrity of the Supreme Court”.
Unlike Jacob Rees Mogg, the leader of the Commons, he does not believe this was a constitutional coup.
Lib Dem deputy leader says Boris Johnson must be removed
Ed Davey said Mr Johnson “deserves punishment” and that it is imperative he is removed to avoid leaving the EU without a deal, reports Eoin McSweeney.
The Lib Dem deputy leader, on Sky News, said he would rather the Labour party’s Harriet Harman or Ken Clarke of the Conservative party seek to replace the prime minister before Jeremy Corbyn.
“There is no prospect of Jeremy Corbyn winning a motion of confidence in the Commons,” Mr Davey said.
Nigel Farage insists Supreme Court was politically motivated
Nigel Farage is adamant the UK Supreme Court was politically motivated in its ruling on Tuesday, writes the FT’s Eoin McSweeney.
“I’m not surprised in the least by the judgment yesterday because that court is representative of the political class,” Mr Farage said.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, he said: “We will not get Brexit without a general election”.
He also called for the PM to resign as a “matter of honour”.