Boris Johnson approvedthe decision to prorogue Parliament-Read more
Boris Johnson approved the decision to prorogue Parliament two weeks before it was made public, and the day after a Scottish judge agreed to fast track a hearing looking to block the Prime Minister's ability to suspend the Commons.
UK government documents revealed at Edinburgh's Court of Session today show that he gave the idea the green light, after receiving an email from his director of legislative affairs, Nikki da Costa, saying they should prorogue Parliament from September 9.
The Prime Minister approved the prorogation of Parliament two weeks before it was made public, court documents have revealed.A tick and the word "yes" was written on the document.
A futher handwritten note on the document from Mr Johnson suggests he thought there was “nothing especially shocking” about prorogation.
Today's court case has been brought by anti-Brexit campaigners - including 75 MPs and peers in an attempt to stop Mr Johnson from suspending Parliament.
On August 14 it was agreed by Lord Doherty to expedite the timetable for the legal challenge, setting the date for the substantive hearing as September 6. That date was brought forward to today, after the same group attempted to win an interim interdict on the Queen's approval of prorogation.
The email from da Costa to the Prime Minister and his special adviser Dominic Cummings was sent on August 15, and the note back from Mr Johnson, said: “The whole September session is a rigmarole [redacted] introduced to show the public MPs are earning their crust, so I don’t see anything shocking about this decision.”
Aiden O’Neil QC, for the petitioners, says that they had asked for a sworn statement from the Prime Minister but had not received it., instead they had been sent the UK government's emails and the note at 10.55pm last night.
Mr O’Neill said the late submission of documents by the respondents is “an attempt to produce evidence to this court which has not met the test of being the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.
However Mr Johnston QC, for the UK government, apologised to the court for late note of arguments and blamed the “fast moving political situation”.
The documents presented are witness statements in the "Miller case" which is proceeding in the High Court in London.Mr O'Neill said the email to the Prime Minister was headed "ending the session", and asked: "Are you content for your PPS (parliamentary private secretary) to approach the palace with the request for prorogation to begin with the period 9 September to Thursday 12 September and for the Queen's Speech on 14 October?" Beside that paragraph was a handwritten tick and the word "yes",
Mr O'Neill added: "One presumes this is a document which was sent in the red box to the Prime Minister for him to read at his leisure in the evening of 15 August in which he says 'yes' to approaching the palace with a request for prorogation.
"That appears to be developing government policy as of 15 August, but this court was told nothing of that and was told in fact that this judicial review is academic, hypothetical and premature.
"That is not true. This court and these petitioners were being actively misled."
Mr O’Neill said the documents show the prorogation was a decision of the Prime Minister, which is ultra vires and unconstitutional. “This is an attempt to... roll back history in favour of some kind of divine right”. He added: “This is not stacking the cards, it’s taking the entire deck”.
Mr O’Neill told the court that Boris Johnson’s whole career has been marked by “incontinent mendacity”.
Arguments from the UK government will be put later today, but it has said that proroguing Parliament is an exercise which the Queen alone could enter into, and was not a matter for the courts.
It has previously cited "classic examples of where the courts would not interfere" on prorogation and dissolving parliament.
It has also argued that there was a clear convention in the Queen following her government's advice, and there was a weight of evidence to suggest that such conventions were "non justiciable" - not subject to trial in a court of law.
Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC - Scotland's top law officer - has been given permission by the judge to take part in the hearing and is expected to argue that the suspension of Parliament prevents scrutiny of the government's plans and represents an abuse of executive power.