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International 24 Sep, 2019 Follow News


Britain’s long, winding and bumpy Brexit road continues to encounter more potholes.


In the most recent - up to press time - twist, Scotland’s highest court of appeal, by unanimous decision, ruled that Monday’s prorogation of the British parliament by Prime Minister Boris Johnson was unlawful.


The ruling came just two days after the prorogation, and less than a week after a lower Scottish court had rejected a challenge over the legality of the prime minister's move.


A separate court challenge had ruled the prorogation was lawful although it said it was more of a political issue than a matter for the courts. That too is being appealed.


The prorogation - or suspension - of parliament on Monday, which went into the early hours of Tuesday, was itself an event brimming with sheer political drama.


The Speaker of the House, John Bercow, presiding over the raucous session declared that: “this is not a standard or normal prorogation,” adding that it “represents an act of executive fiat”.


As Monday’s meeting wound down with a second vote barring the government from calling early elections, Mr Bercow dramatically announced his departure "by October 31st at the latest" - which coincides which the current Brexit exit date.


The Boris Johnson government had re-tabled a motion for an early election having lost a previous vote.


It also lost another vote preventing it from taking the UK out of the EU by October 31st without an agreed deal.


Tuesday’s ruling by the Scottish appeal court against the government raises further issues.


As the Queen ultimately gives the permission under imperial prerogative and acting on the advice of the prime minister, questions are now being raised as to whether Her Majesty was not just incorrectly advised by the prime minister, but might have been willfully misled.


The basis for the prorogation as stated by Mr Johnson, was to facilitate the traditional annual Queen’s Speech outlining the government’s programme for the next parliamentary year.


The ruling by the Scottish appeals court was expected to be referred to the UK’s own Supreme Court.


It’s understood that that appeal could come as early as next Tuesday.


In the interim, there are calls for the parliament (House of Commons) to reconvene.


Much of the debate surrounding this matter ever since it was first mooted by Prime Minister Johnson, was that it was a precursor to elections.


The prime minister himself had challenged the opposition parties in the parliament to early general elections.


But, Brexit and the process surrounding it have always been at the forefront of heated political exchanges.


The opposition claimed that the prime minister was simply using the election as a ploy to set an election date that would best suit his agenda.


And the twists don’t end there.


The previous Withdrawal Deal agreed by erstwhile prime minister Theresa May is now being resuscitated - or, at least segments of it - on the basis that the Johnson government has so far not stated, or is refusing opposition demands to outline its alternatives to that ‘deal’.


Mr Johnson who has been adamantly stating that he will take the UK out of the EU on October 31st - ‘do or die’ / ‘deal or no deal’ - has recently appeared to be softening at least his tone with seeking to arrive at a new deal with the EU.


The self-assertive boisterousness seems to be waning ever so slightly.


Senior EU officials have contradicted his assertions that ‘negotiations’ are progressing, stating that there have been discussions, not negotiations.


The EU position was reinforced during a meeting on Monday between Mr Johnson and the Irish Republic prime minister (taoiseach), Leo Varadkar, concerning the border that separates British Northern Ireland from the independent Irish Republic.


That border is critical to the Brexit issue. The much-referred ‘backstop’ is a central element of the Withdrawal Agreement reached by ex-prime minister Theresa May and the EU.


The Irish leader insisted that no alternative proposals have been formally presented by his current British counterpart.


Mr Johnson had broadly commented about consideration being given to an open border for agricultural produce under the heading of all-Ireland food standards zone.


However, that idea does not appear to appeal to the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which has a ‘confidence and supply pact’ with the Conservative government that it had agreed with Mrs May and which continues under Mr Johnson.


They rushed over to London on Tuesday for urgent talks.


The outcome of that was not clear up to press time for the Caymanian Times, but the DUP is known to be wary about any development which could mean that Northern Ireland is treated differently from the rest of the UK.


There are fears that the return of a hard border, no matter how selective, between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, could jeopardise the Good Friday Agreement which ended the period of violence known as "The Troubles".


In further Brexit fall-outs over the past few days; intense pressure is being mounted against Prime Minister Johnson for sidelining 22 members of his own Conservative party for defying him in crucial parliamentary votes which the government lost.


The Johnson administration is now further of a minority government.


There have also been more defections from both the Conservative and Labour Party - mainly to the Liberal Democrats although one Labour member has joined the Conservative government to lead a drive against anti-Semitism.


The Labour Party continues to be riven by allegations of antisemitism within its ranks putting pressure on the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.


And, just on Wednesday this week, Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader defied party leader Jeremy Corbyn, declaring that the party should first "unequivocally back Remain" in a fresh Brexit referendum before holding general elections.


Mr Corbyn thinks otherwise.


The Labour Party leader is known to have been hesitant in stating a firm personal and party position on Brexit as he has been one of the EU’s biggest critics.


The countdown to Brexit on October 31st continues.


So too does navigating the ever-popping-up potholes on the way there.

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