Despite Johnson calling it a routine closure of Parliament, the unanimous Supreme Court declared his order “void and of no effect.” The judges ruled that Johnson’s Conservative government instead shut down lawmakers in an effort to squelch debate on Britain’s divorce from the European Union.
“The suspension was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification,” Supreme Court President Brenda Hale said in a statement.
The 11-judge panel's decision said that it is up to Parliament to decide what to do next.
“Unless there is some Parliamentary rule of which we are unaware, they can take immediate steps to enable each House to meet as soon as possible,” it read.
In reaction to the court’s decision, John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, said in a written statement that lawmakers must convene as a matter of urgency. He said the ruling “vindicated the right and duty of Parliament to meet at this crucial time to scrutinize the executive and hold ministers to account.”
Soon after, Bercow announced that Parliament will resume Wednesday. He said there will be full scope for emergency debates following the ruling. He said the ruling means the suspension never took effect.
The Supreme Court’s ruling comes weeks after Johnson advised the queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks during a crucial time frame before the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline, when Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union.
A person dressed as a caricature of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a prison uniform stands outside the Supreme Court in London, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Parliament erupted into chaos earlier this month after following through with Johnson's threat to suspend the legislature. Days later, legal challenges were issued against Johnson's government for allegedly "stymieing Parliament" with the suspension.
Johnson, who is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, has not commented yet on the ruling. He said earlier that he would comply with the court's decision.
Calls for Johnson to resign began immediately after the landmark ruling, with opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn saying that the decision shows the prime minister's "contempt" for democracy and the rule of law.
"I invite Boris Johnson, in the historic words, to consider his position," he said during a party conference, adding that Johnson should resign "and become the shortest-serving prime minister there's ever been."
Jo Johnson says he has been ‘torn between family loyalty and the national interest’; Amy Kellogg reports from London.
“Boris Johnson’s position is untenable and he should have the guts to resign,” Scottish National Party spokesperson Joanna Cherry also said at a press conference.
The government's opponents argued that Johnson illegally shut down Parliament just weeks before the country is due to leave the 28-nation bloc for the "improper purpose" of dodging lawmakers' scrutiny of his Brexit plans.
They also accused Johnson of misleading the queen, whose formal approval was needed to suspend the legislature.
The court rejected the government's assertions that the decision to suspend Parliament until Oct. 14 was routine and not related to Brexit. Government lawyers claimed that under Britain's unwritten constitution, it is a matter for politicians, not courts, to decide.
Johnson has refused to say whether he will resign if he is found to have broken the law, or will seek to shut down Parliament again.
Fox News Lucia Suarez and the Associated Press contributed to this report.