Judicial Blowback

The Tory government, under both May and Johnson, has made plain its contempt for the rule of law repeatedly, and not only over the prorogation of parliament. In the last few days we have seen the Tories admit to illegal sales of arms to Saudi Arabia, in direct breach of a ruling by the Court of Appeal, for which “accident” Liz Truss gave a completely fake apology.

The Home Office has simply ignored court rulings in several immigration cases. To this must be added the whole “enemies of the people” attitude of the government supporting media towards judges in cases involving Brexit, and the remarkably equivocal noises from No 10 over respecting the Supreme Court on prorogation.

The arguments of today’s Supreme Court judgement were extremely strong. But even Supreme Court judges are human. No matter how much the judgement may be presented as purely the product of rarified intellect, I have no doubt the surprisingly unanimous view of the court was to some extent influenced by the chance to hit back decisively at a political faction which has cast the judiciary as the enemy and attempted to undermine them and to ignore or override inconvenient judgements.

Boris, meet Hubris.

I have expressed at length my view that the idea the Queen was “misled” is a nonsense. David Cameron’s description of the process of getting the Queen to intervene in the Scottish Independence referendum, involving multiple conversations with her private secretary (a senior civil servant on secondment), lifts the lid a bit for those who have not been inside the system. There will have been detailed discussions with the Queen’s private office of the prorogation and its motives, which Buckingham Palace could see as well as any of us. One cheerful thing about today’s ruling is that it states unequivocally that an Order in Council, issued with the authority of the Queen, is void if unlawful. This is as much a poke in the eye for the Queen as it is for Boris Johnson, despite the near unanimous pretence of her immaculate innocence and infallibility.

I had drafted a piece on Boris and Iran, but given today’s overwhelming news focus am leaving that till tomorrow.


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