BORIS Johnson last night flew home to try to save his premiership after the highest court in the land ruled he acted unlawfully by shutting Parliament amid the Brexit crisis.

The Prime Minister was forced to cut short a trip to New York following the Supreme Court’s unanimous verdict that there was “no justification” for him stopping Westminster doing its job for five weeks.

Eleven justices said the prorogation, which was due to run from September 10 to October 14, was “unlawful, null and of no effect”, and MPs were therefore free to return to the Commons. 

“Parliament has not been prorogued”, their historic judgment concluded. 

Mr Johnson last night spoke to the Queen about giving her the unlawful advice on which the abortive prorogation was based. 

He refused to heed opposition calls to resign, and questioned the judges’ decision, saying he would respect the “unusual” verdict while “strongly” disagreeing with it.
He also suggested he would try to prorogue Parliament again, this time on legal footing.

Speaking before attending a UN summit, he said: “Obviously this is a verdict that we will respect. I have to say I strongly disagree with what the justices have found. But I think the most important thing is we get on and deliver Brexit on October 31. 

“Clearly the claimants, in this case, are determined to try to frustrate that and to stop that.

“It would be very unfortunate if Parliament made that objective, which the people want delivered, more difficult. But we’ll get on.” 

READ MORE: Queen ‘should resign’ for her part in prorogation, says MSP 

When Mr Johnson later met Donald Trump, the US President predicted he would stay on. 

“I’ll tell you, I know him well, he’s not going anywhere,” he said.

However, as criticism mounted on this side of the Atlantic, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn brought forward his speech to his party’s conference by a day to declare Mr Johnson unfit to be in Number 10.

He said: “Boris Johnson has been found to have misled the country. This unelected Prime Minister should now resign. He thought he could do whatever he liked just as he always does. He thinks he’s above us all.  He is part of an elite that disdains democracy. He is not fit to be Prime Minister.”

He said he would push for an election once a no-deal Brexit on Hallowe’en had become impossible.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who made an emergency statement to Holyrood, said it would be “unthinkable” for Mr Johnson to remain in office.

The Brexit Party said there was now “no chance” that Brexit would happen by October 31.

Nigel Farage said Mr Johnson should offer MPs his resignation “as a matter of honour” and called for his chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, to go for being the architect of the prorogation “disaster”.

Former Tory attorney general Dominic Grieve said the verdict was not a surprise as it reflected the PM’s “gross misbehaviour”. 

Mr Johnson held a conference call with his Cabinet last night before flying home to face a furious House of Commons, which resumes its work this morning.   

The court’s 25-page judgment, which was unambiguous in its criticisms, was crushing for a Government that did not anticipate it. 

The court said Mr Johnson exceeded his powers when he advised the Queen to have a “prolonged prorogation” that frustrated Parliament’s ability to scrutinise his Brexit plans.

HeraldScotland:

The Prime Minister had claimed the suspension was merely to reset the parliamentary calendar and lay out a new legislative programme in a Queen’s speech. 

But two legal challenges, one in Scotland led by SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC, argued the true aim was to limit Parliament’s right to hold the executive to account.

Although it did not rule on Mr Johnson’s motive, or on the merits of Brexit, the Court said the effect of the prorogation was to silence parliament’s voice at a moment of exceptional constitutional change. 

“The effect upon the fundamentals of our democracy was extreme,” said Lady Hale, the President of the Court, as she delivered its decision.

The justices rejected the Government’s primary line of defence, that prorogation was a purely political issue, not one of law.

They said courts had had jurisdiction over the lawfulness of government acts for “centuries”, and a key consideration was whether there was “reasonable justification” for limiting Parliament’s scrutiny of the executive.

READ MORE: Iain Macwhirter: A bloody nose, but Johnson will carry on acting disgracefully 

They said a memo informing Mr Johnson’s decision, written by legal adviser Nikki da Costa, failed to explain why five weeks was needed, when prorogation was typically four to six days.

It also failed to explain why prorogation, which closed the Commons and Lords, was preferable to a planned recess when parliamentarians could have remained active, held committees, and tabled written questions to the Government.

HeraldScotland:

Lady Hale said: “No justification for taking action with such an extreme effect has been put before the court. The court is bound to conclude, therefore, that the decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.”

The sole bright spot for the PM was that the court did not say he lied to the Queen.
The justices said they were not interested in the motive for the prorogation, but whether there was a sound reason for it. 

On the first point, the justices said: “We do not know what the Queen was told and cannot draw any conclusions about it.”

But on the latter, about justification, the court ruling was devastating for the PM.
It said: “Nowhere is there a hint that the Prime Minister, in giving advice to Her Majesty, is more than simply the leader of the Government seeking to promote its own policies.

“It is impossible for us to conclude, on the evidence which has been put before us, that there was any reason – let alone a good reason – to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament for five weeks. It follows that the decision was unlawful.”
The ruling followed twin legal challenges in England and Scotland brought by activist Gina Miller and a group of 75 peers and MPs led by Ms Cherry.

The High Court ruled prorogation was a political matter and therefore non-justiciable, and Ms Miller appealed directly to the Supreme Court. 

In Scotland, a single judge, Lord Doherty, make a similar ruling, but the campaigners then appealed to the Court of Session’s Inner House, which said Mr Johnson’s advice to the Queen had been unlawful because the improper motive was to “stymie” parliament.

The UK Government then appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, where it was heard alongside Ms Miller’s appeal over three days last week.

Outside court, Ms Miller said the ruling “speaks volumes”.

“This Prime Minister must open the doors of Parliament tomorrow. MPs must get back and be brave and bold in holding this unscrupulous Government to account,” she said.
After the decision, Ms Cherry said she did not expect it to be unanimous or so “trenchant”.

She said: “The highest court in the United Kingdom has unanimously found that his [Mr Johnson’s] advice to prorogue this Parliament, his advice given to Her Majesty the Queen, was unlawful. 

“His position is untenable and he should have the guts, for once, to do the decent thing and resign.”

She later said Mr Johnson should apologise to the Queen.

The Government’s top law officer,  Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC, was also under pressure after it was reported that he assured Johnson the prorogation was “lawful and within the constitution”.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said it was a “humiliation” for a Prime Minister acting like “a dictator”.

He said the opposition should pass a no confidence motion “as soon as practically possible”, while avoiding no-deal. “We cannot leave him in office. He has to be removed,” he said.

UK LibDem leader Jo Swinson said: “The court found what we all knew all along – Boris Johnson has again proven he is not fit to be Prime Minister.” 

Former Tory PM Sir John Major – who backed Ms Miller’s case – said Mr Johnson should make an “unreserved apology”.

He said: “No Prime Minister must ever treat the Monarch or Parliament in this way again.”

Welsh Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford said the decision was a “victory for the rule of law” after the PM “tried to play fast and loose with the constitution”.

Former LibDem leader Lord Menzies Campbell told The Herald: “Mr Johnson should get on the first plane from New York and go to Balmoral and offer his resignation to the Queen; which, by convention, she is bound to accept. This is a pantomime premiership. He has got to go.”