Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament has been ruled unlawful by Scotland’s highest
court, which Johnson plans to appeal next week. The UK’s Supreme Court will be debating the
appeal, on which the opening of parliament rides— and on that rides the deal that the UK will be
leaving the EU on. The last week has been dramatic and eventful, with Johnson losing his
majority, an MP crossing the floor, two failed attempts at a calling a general election and an
entire, debatably-illegal government suspension.
Since Johnson was elected Prime Minister by the UK Conservative Party, the British
government has been thrown into an increasing state of chaos. Keeping up with the
developments of Brexit in its current state is difficult, so here’s the approximate timeline of
Johnson’s tenure, leading up to his parliament dissolution.
Theresa May resigns, and after a contentious leadership contest, Boris Johnson is elected PM
by the Conservative party as her replacement. He swears to deliver a swift Brexit by the 31st of
October, deal or no deal. Johnson’s parliamentary majority is fairly slim; his Conservative party
has many “rebel” tories who greatly dislike the idea of the impending no-deal Brexit and won’t
back him up. There are murmurs of Johnson calling a snap general election to strengthen his
majority in parliament, but that doesn’t go through— yet. He’s paying for advertisements and
making promises that sound an awful lot like election rhetoric.
Johnson doesn’t have a deal together, and by now, parliament is incredibly shaky about it. A
no-deal spells economic disaster for Britain, no matter how much Johnson wants it. An alliance
of rebel Tories and opposition poltiicians manage to get in a bill that will force Johnson to push
back the Brexit deadline and give the government more time to negotiate, a crushing defeat that
Johnson deeply resents. He expels the 21 rebel Tory MPs that backed the new ‘Benn Bill’, but
his hands are now tied by law to ask for a three-month extension.
Johnson tries to call a general election, which could get him a majority, but Labour abstain
from the vote and he fails to get the majority needed to call one. The government has to stay as
it is for now, despite Johnson’s determination for an election. He calls for a second vote a
couple of days later and suffers a similar defeat— the government now has no way out of the
Johnson responds by suspending parliament for five weeks, allegedly because the
government needs more time to set out a new legislative programme. Skeptics, though, have
accused Johnson of suspending parliament in order to avoid the Brexit negotiations in the
hopes of getting a no-deal through anyway; a five-week suspension would be the longest
suspension since 1945.
The Scottish High Court deems his suspension illegal, saying that the reasons he gave the
Queen— who needs to formally instigate the suspension— were false. This has since caused
Johnson to be bombarded with accusations of lying to the Queen, which he denies. The
decision is to be appealed by the government in the Supreme Court next week.
The Operation Yellowhammer documents are released. A Commons motion forces the
government’s no-deal preparation documents to be released, dubbed “Operation
Yellowhammer”. The papers warn of food and medicine shortages, trade delays and general
economic disasters. MPs are already angry about the parliament shutdown and begin protesting
even harder that it needs to be re-opened in the face of the documents being released.
And now, as of 13th September, the international community is anxiously awaiting the result of
next week’s appeal. Johnson’s career, the state of the UK, and the integrity of the EU are all set
to be put to the test in the following weeks; what the next development will be nobody can say.
The British Government may stay in suspension, Johnson may lose his position, a second
referendum may be held, and for all we know Corbyn could be the PM by this time next month.
What all this means for Northern Ireland, international trade, and the European economy is yet
to be seen, but opinions are overwhelmingly that it’s not going to be good.