United Kingdom Parliament Suspension

– in the Scottish Parliament on 12th September 2019.

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Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

How does the current suspension of the United Kingdom Parliament affect the First Minister’s Government and this Parliament’s preparations for Brexit? If prorogation is unlawful, why is Westminster not back to work?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

First, when it comes to the practical implications of the UK Parliament being suspended, particularly in light of the publication last night of the operation yellowhammer planning assumptions, it is vital that Parliament is there to scrutinise and hold to account the UK Government. That would be a helpful process for the Scottish Government’s planning; we need to get as much information out of the UK Government as possible.

The big question for the Prime Minister and the Government this morning is why Parliament is still suspended. Yesterday, Scotland’s highest civil court declared that the prorogation of Parliament is unlawful. Parliament should be back to work, scrutinising the Government, because, if any Government needed scrutinising, the UK Government certainly does.

Photo of John Finnie John Finnie Green

Yesterday, the Court of Session ruled that the First Minister acted unlawfully by proroguing—[

Interruption

.] I beg her pardon. [

Laughter

.] I would never suggest any inappropriateness on the part of our First Minister.

Yesterday, the Court of Session ruled that the Prime Minister acted unlawfully by proroguing the UK Parliament. Regardless of whether we agree with any individual judgment, does the First Minister agree that it is outrageous that Downing Street sources seek to undermine the court, with a minister on television implying that the judges were biased? Can the First Minister outline what action the Scottish Government will take to defend the judiciary from those outrageous and unfounded attacks?

The First Minister:

I am glad that John Finnie clarified that, yesterday, the Court of Session found the Prime Minister to have acted unlawfully.

Yesterday’s judgment is of huge constitutional significance. As I said yesterday and today, the political implications of it should be straightforward. Parliament should immediately be back in session.

If that was not bad enough yesterday, what we heard, directly and indirectly, from people within the Conservative Party, who attacked the independence and integrity of the judiciary, was absolutely disgraceful and shocking.

I was glad to hear Jackson Carlaw and other members of the Tory benches here defend the integrity and independence of the judiciary. Whatever our views on individual judgments, our court system and the separation of powers are a vital part of our democracy. It is not just wrong but deeply dangerous for politicians of any party to attack the independence of the judiciary. It is incumbent on us all to stand up for that.