Legal Advice: Prorogation Debate

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Department: Attorney General

Legal Advice: Prorogation

Rory Stewart Excerpts
Wednesday 25th September 2019

(4 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Geoffrey Cox Portrait The Attorney General
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Let me make it plain that I have never denied any member of the Cabinet any sight of any advice of mine. I am not certain who else asked for that advice and when, but I certainly have never denied it.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart (Penrith and The Border) (Ind)
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Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that, rather than being some new-fangled innovative decision, this was a profoundly conservative decision by the Supreme Court, asserting the ancient sovereignty of Parliament, and that fundamentally the principle at stake here is that, of course, neither that Court nor any other court should determine whether Brexit takes place—that decision has been made by the people—but that it is for this House, the only directly elected representatives of the people, to determine the form in which that Brexit happens?

Geoffrey Cox Portrait The Attorney General
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Let me say to my right hon. Friend that the Supreme Court invoked the principle of parliamentary sovereignty and the convention of ministerial accountability to Parliament as a justification for making justiciable the decision to prorogue. That is what it was entitled to do, and it effectively amounts to converting a political convention into a legal rule. That, traditionally, was not thought to be possible; the Supreme Court has decided that it is, and I certainly do not in any way complain with its right to do so. I agree that Parliament has to determine the terms on which we leave, but this Parliament has declined three times to pass a withdrawal Act to which the Opposition had absolutely no objection. [Interruption.]