Boris Johnson's Parliament suspension case reaches final day in Supreme Court

By Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 12:14 p.m. ET, September 19, 2019
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12:14 p.m. ET, September 19, 2019

Our live coverage is wrapping up

Thanks for following three lengthy days of legal debate with us. As the Supreme Court judges retire to consider their verdict, we're doing the same.

You can catch up on anything you missed below.

11:21 a.m. ET, September 19, 2019

Boris Johnson refuses to rule out suspending Parliament again if he loses the Supreme Court case

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Boris Johnson did not rule out shutting down Parliament again if the Supreme Court finds his current prorogation was unlawful.

Speaking to reporters after the conclusion of the third day in court, Johnson demurred when he was asked to rule out a second prorogation. "I have the greatest respect for the judiciary in this country," he responded, according to the Press Association.

"The best thing I can say at the moment whilst their deliberations are continuing is that obviously I agree very much with the Master of the Rolls and the Lord Chief Justice and others who found in our favour the other day," he added.

"I will wait to see what transpires."

The suggestion that Johnson could order a second prorogation was raised in the government's submission to the court, which said that "depending on the court’s reasoning it would still either be open or not open to the prime minister to consider a further prorogation" for the same period of time.

On the state of his Brexit negotiations with the EU, Johnson said: "I don't want to exaggerate the progress that we are making, but we are making progress.

"We need to find a way whereby the UK can come out of the EU and really be able to do things differently, not remain under the control of the EU in terms of laws and trade policy, this is the problem with the current agreement," he added, while also saying that the UK will continue to "get ready" for a no-deal Brexit.

11:04 a.m. ET, September 19, 2019

Here's what people are saying at the end of the hearing

Plenty of observers took notice of the lengthy exchanges between Pannick and the judges at the end of the hearing, in which it appeared the justices wanted to iron out what sort of remedy they were being asked to issue.

Dinah Rose, a human rights lawyer, felt the exchanges spelled bad news for the government.

Buzzfeed reporter Hannah Al-Othman drew a similar conclusion.

Law commentator David Allen Green made a measured prediction.

Meanwhile, legal commentator and author Joshua Rozenberg anticipated a lengthy ruling in the coming days.

10:21 a.m. ET, September 19, 2019

Ruling should come early next week, President says

Lord Pannick has wrapped up his remarks. The close attention paid by the judges to how far they should go in their judgement, and whether or not they should order that Parliament be re-opened, does suggest that the government ought to feel more than a little nervous. But it's still a fool's game to make a prediction. Judges make their decisions on the basis of the strength of legal argument rather than the flourish with which it is delivered.

The President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale -- who for many observers has become the breakout star of the proceedings -- made a short statement afterwards in which she said that the judges understand that time is of the essence, and that a ruling will be delivered early next week.

10:25 a.m. ET, September 19, 2019

Pannick says Parliament should come back next week if judges find prorogation is unlawful

Things aren't looking good for the government. The judges are very interested in what should happen if they rule that the government acted illegally.

Pannick says that Parliament should return as soon as possible next week, if the court rules in his favor that prorogation was unlawful.

"The remedy we seek from the courts is a declaration that the prime mister’s advice to Her Majesty was unlawful," he says.

He asks whether the court can "make such a declaration as soon as possible ... because time is of the essence.” 

Pannick then says his team "would expect” that Boris Johnson “would ensure that Parliament resumes as soon as possible next week."

Lady Hale asks whether Johnson would have to do so, and Pannick responds it would be "the appropriate way forward" -- but he notes that the court would not want to get involved in those matters "unless it really has to."

Lord Kerr then suggests in response that, if the prorogation is to be found unlawful, it doesn't necessarily compel the prime minister to take any particular action.

Lord Reed adds that Parliament would still stand prorogued if the judges find the suspension unlawful. But Pannick respond it would be "implicit" that the prorogation would need to be reversed.

9:47 a.m. ET, September 19, 2019

What happens if the prorogation is ruled unlawful?

Towards the end of his remarks, Lord Keen went onto the issue of the government's submissions of remedy -- what they would do if the prorogation is ruled unlawful.

Keen argued that it should be up to the government, rather than the court, to decide what to do next, but he was questioned by a judge on that point.

He also committed the government to following the law if the judges specify what that law is in their ruling -- which, as one of the judges, Lord Kerr, noted, should go without saying.

9:38 a.m. ET, September 19, 2019

Proroguing Parliament doesn't prevent accountability, says government lawyer

Lord Keen has re-emphasized the government's argument that prorogation of Parliament is not a matter for the courts, warning the justices not to step into a "political minefield."

He says the courts are ill--equipped to opine on the reasons why a prime minister had chosen to suspend Parliament. "How are those concepts to be defined and applied in this context?" he asks.

Keen also responds to the argument that proroguing Parliament has prevented the ability to hold the executive to account.

"It is a fact that for a period, prorogation will affect accountability in Parliament," he says. "But it doesn’t affect accountability beyond Parliament” such as by the public and in the media, he suggests.

Keen also attempts to rebuke the argument that prorogation was more severe, and unnecessarily so, than a simple recess or dissolution. "Prorogation no more intrudes upon the idea of accountability than would dissolution," he says.

And he says that, if it wanted to block prorogation, a vote of no confidence could have been called in Boris Johnson's government -- but that this was not done in September before the suspension took affect.

9:03 a.m. ET, September 19, 2019

We're back where it all started

Pannick on the streets of London.
Pannick on the streets of London. TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images

The Supreme Court is back in session for the final time in this three-day hearing. And in a pleasing conclusion for those who have been following every twist and turn, we've come full circle -- the two lawyers who started proceedings on Monday will be making their final case to the judges.

First up is Lord Keen, who will be... er... eager to make a lasting impression on the judges that they should consider prorogation a political decision and not one to be ruled on in the courts.

Then Lord Pannick will bring the case to a close in his nominatively indeterminate calm fashion, arguing in favor of the Miller case that Boris Johnson acted unlawfully in shutting down Parliament.

8:47 a.m. ET, September 19, 2019

UK has shared informal proposals on Irish border backstop issue with the EU

From CNN’s Luke McGee and Nina dos Santos in London 

The UK government has shared with the EU a series of "confidential technical non-papers" reflecting some the ideas that it believes can replace the Irish Border Backstop that makes up a key part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

The government didn't reveal what any of those ideas might be publicly, but did make clear that non-papers do not reflect official government policy.

A spokesperson for the UK government said: "We will table formal written solutions when we are ready, not according to an artificial deadline, and when the EU is clear that it will engage constructively on them as a replacement for the backstop.”