Scottish court rejects bid for interim order to halt prorogation of Parliament

Brexit, EU, Scotland, Lord Carloway

Scotland’s highest civil court will not give its judgment before Wednesday on a challenge to the planned prorogation of Parliament, the Lord President has said.

Lord Carloway rejected an application to make an interim order to halt the process, despite hearing from the applicants that prorogation could be started two days before that, on Monday.

Aidan O’Neill QC, representing around 70 parliamentarians challenging the UK government, told the Court of Session in Edinburgh that the three presiding judges could apply an interim order “to hold the ring” and preserve the position, “given the best information we have is the prorogation will be commenced on Monday”.

Lord Carloway said the court had some extremely complex issues to decide which will take some time, and it hoped to be in a position to give its judgment on Wednesday.

He declined to impose the interim order.

He said their written judgment could be available some time after that for the UK Supreme Court to see, as that was where the case was likely to head.

Mr O’Neill had claimed prorogation was unlawful in his closing arguments.

He said: “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 is is unlawful.”

David Johnston QC, representing the UK government, had earlier argued it was not for the courts to get involved in what was a political decision.

Lord Brodie, sitting on the panel, had asked whether what one person saw was “high politics” could be seen by another as “low tricks”.

Mr Johnston replied: “Advice that was given for a political motive would not make it improper.”

The court was adjourned until next week.

On Thursday, the court authorised the release of redacted Cabinet documents relating to discussions about the prorogation process.

The Scottish judges could still postpone the prorogation on Wednesday, Jolyon Maugham QC said outside the court.

The anti-Brexit barrister, who is second petitioner with Joanna Cherry MP as first petitioner, said the Supreme Court was likely to be the final destination for the case.

And he stated the Scottish judgment could influence the thinking of the Supreme Court judges.

He said: “If we get a decision in our favour on Wednesday, our understanding is it will suspend the prorogation.”

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