Boris Johnson says he didn’t lie to the Queen
Johnson was asked on Thursday if he had lied to the monarch, after a Scottish court ruled the day before that his government’s advice to the Queen, which led to the five-week prorogation, was “unlawful.”
“Absolutely not,” Johnson replied. “The High Court in England plainly agrees with us but the Supreme Court will have to decide.”
“We need a Queen’s Speech, we need to get on and do all sorts of things at a national level,” he added.
Johnson has always insisted that his decision was a routine device that allowed the government to start a new parliamentary session with a fresh legislative agenda. Critics describe it as an audacious move to reduce the amount of time available to the opposition to block a no-deal Brexit.
The Scottish judges disagreed with the government, saying Wednesday that the suspension was motivated by the “improper purpose of stymying Parliament.”
UK lawmakers are now not scheduled to return to Parliament until October 14, but Johnson said that MPs would have enough time to debate Brexit before and after the EU summit on October 17 and 18, where Johnson has said he hopes to secure a deal.
“I’m very hopeful that we will get a deal, as I say, at that crucial summit. We’re working very hard — I’ve been around the European capitals talking to our friends,” he said.
“I think we can see the rough area of a landing space, of how you can do it — it will be tough, it will be hard, but I think we can get there.”
The three Scottish judges did not order the UK government to reconvene Parliament, noting that the High Court in London had come to a different conclusion in another case last week and that the UK Supreme Court would need to resolve the issue next week.
That led to intense debate on Wednesday over whether MPs could go back to the House of Commons, with opposition lawmakers demanding Parliament be recalled and some MPs returning to the chamber to protest.
Labour — the main opposition party — said it was “more important than ever” for Parliament to be recalled when, hours after the ruling, the government published its no-deal Brexit assessment. This warned of food and fuel shortages in a no-deal scenario.
The government will appeal at the UK Supreme Court against Wednesday’s ruling and an emergency hearing on both the Scottish and English cases has been scheduled for September 17.
Following the unanimous verdict, Conservative minister Kwasi Kwarteng was widely criticized for saying that “many people” think judges are biased over Brexit, but the Prime Minister backed away from his minister’s comments.
Johnson said he would not “quarrel or criticize” the Scottish judges, adding that the British judiciary was “one of the great glories of our constitution.”
“They are independent,” Johnson said. “Believe me, around the world people look at our judges with awe and admiration, so I’m not going to quarrel or criticize the judges.
“Clearly there are two different legal views — the High Court in England had a very different opinion and the Supreme Court will have to adjudicate in the course of the next few days, and I think it’s proper for politicians to let them get on and do that.”
After a turbulent start to his tenure, Johnson received some rare good news on Thursday when a judge in Belfast dismissed a legal challenge to a no-deal Brexit, rejecting a claim that it undermined the Good Friday Agreement which brought peace to Northern Ireland.
Johnson’s government has been legally obliged to request a Brexit extension from the EU if he doesn’t get a deal. On Thursday the President of the European Parliament said he was open to extending the October 31 deadline if it were done to avoid a no deal exit, for a general election or to extend Article 50.
“We’re not ruling anything out,” said David Sassoli. “If solutions are proposed they will be debated — all of them. Providing, of course, they respect the guiding principles of the European Union.
“But, up to now, I can say, and I would like to stress this point, the United Kingdom hasn’t proposed any alternatives and anything that has been legally credible, if I can put it that way, and workable.”
CNN’s Tara John, James Frater and Augusta Anthony contributed to this report.