Brexit news: Why Tony Blair is behind Supreme Court ruling on Parliament shutdown | UK | News


On Wednesday, Scotland’s highest civil court ruled that Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament is unlawful and in breach of Britain’s constitution. A panel of three judges at the Court of Session found in favour of a cross-party group of politicians, who were challenging Mr Johnson’s prorogation. At the appeal hearing on Friday, Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the parliamentarians, made their case, saying: “A decision to prorogue shuts down Parliament.

“It is in those circumstances an attack on democracy.

“It is an attack on the balance of the constitution and therefore it is unlawful.”

The judges ruled the Prime Minister was attempting to prevent Parliament holding the Government to account ahead of Brexit.

The Government is now planning to appeal against the latest ruling to the Supreme Court, in what is going to be an explosive and intensive showdown.

As Mr Johnson and his key advisor Dominic Cummings prepare for the legal battle, the reason this ruling will be made at the Supreme Court can be revealed – and it is all because of Tony Blair.

The former Labour Prime Minister controversially swept aside 1,400 years of history by setting up a new US-style Supreme Court in place of the Law Lords in 2005.

The Law Lords were judges appointed under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 to the House of Lords in order to exercise its judicial functions, which included acting as the highest court of appeal.

The House of Lords lost its judicial functions upon the establishment of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in October 2009, when Constitutional Reform Act 2005, introduced by Mr Blair, came into force.

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Lords of Appeal in Ordinary then in office automatically became Justices of the Supreme Court.

Those Supreme Court justices that had seats in the House of Lords lost their right to speak and vote there until their retirement as justices of the new court.

Somewhat bizarrely, had the Committee still been in existence today, under section 8 of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876, the Lords would have had to rule on the suspension of their own Chamber.

The abolishment of the Law Lords created a lot of controversy at the time – in particular over the running costs of the Supreme Court in comparison to the Law Lords.

According to parliamentary records, on November 10, 2009, Conservative MP Shailesh Vara addressed the House of Commons, saying: “Given that it was widely reported that the decision to set up a Supreme Court was taken by Tony Blair and Lord Falconer over a glass of whisky, and that the annual cost of running the Supreme Court is some £14million whereas the cost of the previous arrangement was £3million a year, does the Minister agree that it has proved to be a very expensive glass of whisky?”

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Then Minister of State Michael Wills, replied: “No, I do not agree, and I counsel the Honourable Gentleman – and I suspect his colleagues who will follow on shortly – that they must be very careful to ensure that they compare like with like.

“If I may, I will give the Honourable Gentleman a few figures.

“The figures he quotes are roughly right, but they do not include all the costs incurred in the running of the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords, as they were not included when we looked at the costs of the Supreme Court.

“Let me just give an example: The costings he has quoted go back to 2002-03, I think.

“Inflation since then and the costs that cannot be separated out precisely from the running of Parliament, such as those for rent, security, IT, catering, library services, cleaning and non-cash items, amount to about £7million.

“So when the Honourable Gentleman looks at these figures and genuinely tries to arrive at a like-for-like comparison, he will find there is no significant difference.”

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