Brexit revenge complete: Supreme Court’s powers slashed after Remainers’ sabotage attempts

The Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill was voted through its final stage of the Commons by 312 to 55. It repeals the Fixed Term Act introduced by the coalition Government in 2011, returning power to call an election to the Prime Minister.

Dan Falvey, Political Correspondent www.express.co.uk 

Clipping the wings of the Supreme Court, the Bill also seeks to rule out judicial intervention.

The Bill makes it explicitly clear the decision to call an election could not be challenged in the courts.

Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith told the Commons the legislation “is necessary and proportionate for the avoidance of doubt and to preserve the longstanding position that the prerogative powers to dissolve one parliament and to call another are non-justiciable.”

She added: “Any judgment on their exercise should be left to the electorate in the polling booth.”

Mr Johnson pledged to scrap the Fixed Term Parliaments Act in the 2019 general election.

The decision to write into law there is no legal basis for the courts to intervene in the timing of an election is seen among Westminster as a deliberate attempt by the Prime Minister to get revenge on the Supreme Court.

In September 2019, Mr Johnson planned to prorogue parliament for a number of weeks in a bid to prevent MPs forcing him to extend the date the UK would leave the EU beyond October 31.

However, a legal challenge by a group of Remainers led to the Supreme Court ruling the prorogation illegal.

MPs were sent straight back to Parliament, where they held a vote to force Mr Johnson to beg the EU for another Brexit extension.

Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Cox, who was attorney general at the time of the prorogation row, spoke out in favour of the Bill in the Commons.

He argued reverting power to dissolve parliament for elections to the Prime Minister was a return to “sanity” and “normality”.

He told MPs: “I see this measure as a welcomed correction that brings back our constitution to the fundamental principles, which have existed for many, many years.”

The Fixed Term Parliaments Act has been blamed as partially responsible for the Brexit impasse in the Commons in 2019.

Under the law, an election could only be called earlier than the five year period if it was supported by two-thirds of MPs.

With the Government struggling to break the Brexit deadlock in Parliament, Mr Johnson twice tried and failed to call an election.

Opposition MPs refused to give their consent to going to the ballot box, claiming they were concerned by the timing of the planned election.

While clearing all the hurdles of the Commons, the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill could still be amended in the House of Lords.

Peers will debate and vote on the legislation later this year.

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