Britain’s Supreme Court has delivered a devastating verdict against Boris Johnson. In a unanimous ruling on Tuesday, Eleven judges ruled that his decision to suspend Parliament which was deliberating on Brexit was unlawful.
It was an epic moment in the history of Britain, the occasion is unique as a constitutional ISSUE. Britain’s Supreme Court is only 10 years old. It’s not like the US Supreme Court that goes back to 1787. But, in a way, this was as big as a very important judgment back in 1801 called Marbury vs Madison, where essentially the US Supreme Court ruled against the executive and set out the parameters of power for the executive and the legislature and the Courts.
We have to remind ourselves that this was a power struggle between the executive and the judiciary. Basically, it was all about Boris Johnson overstepping his powers as Prime Minister, as the Supreme Court just ruled in proroguing Parliament and sending them on this forced break. Most importantly, what this ruling means is that he misled the Queen in advising her to send Parliament on break.
Fundamentally the Supreme Court’s decision implies that a Parliament had got weaker and weaker over the last 40 or 50 years and the Prime Minister got stronger and stronger. Suddenly, the balance of power is about to be restored. And, Parliament is being put into a much stronger position to hold the government into account. So, you have Boris Johnson with no majority flailing around trying to find a way through and we’ve just seen the stand taken by Attorney General Jeffrey Cox; they’re calling Parliament a disgrace and a dead Parliament. Well, they’re many Parliamentarians who turn round and say exactly the same about the government.
Understandably, Boris Johnson has a game plan which is still alive and that game plan is essential to take a very hard line on Brexit, crash out if necessary and get an early election where he can present himself as the passionate pro-Brexit spokesman; The man of the people pitted against that ghastly elite in Parliament and indeed in the courts. Now, the question is: can he do that because Parliament’s somewhat tied his hands by saying you can’t storm out without a deal and they’ve also said you can’t have an early election. So, he’s in a deep hole without an exit.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn is not able to capitalize on all this turmoil partly because he doesn’t want an early election. He doesn’t trust Boris Johnson not to crash out in the interim. Secondly, he knows his figures don’t look great in the country because the Labour Party is neither fish nor fowl in the Brexit debate. They want to have one foot among the remainers in Europe camp, one foot in the Brexit camp. And, their opinion poll ratings have been going south. So, he is very cautious but he nonetheless ought to be making far more progress.
The party that’s making progress is on the right. The Brexit party was stealing conservative votes and on the centre-left, you’ve got the Liberal Democrats who have been stealing quite a lot of Labour and Conservative voters.
In sum, where does this leave Brexit? Has the timeline now changed because of the Supreme Court’s decision or is Britain still on track with that October 31st deadline?
Analysts feel the timeline has changed because of what Parliament did to say you can’t crush out. One would expect Britain will get an extension, Boris Johnson handles it having said - I won’t ask for an extension: do or die and I’ll die in the ditch rather. So, you’ll have to, one way or another.
Md. Sharif Hasan is a faculty at the Department of International Relations, University of Rajshahi.