Brexit hopes rise as Jean-Claude Juncker says ‘we CAN get a deal’: Cabinet minister Stephen Barclay holds talks in Brussels after EU chief suggests hated Irish backstop could be removed

  • Stephen Barclay and EU's Michel Barnier have held talks in Brussels today
  • EU commission president Jean-Claude has suggested the sides 'can get a deal'  
  • The optimistic noises came in interview with Sky News' Sophy Ridge last night  

brexit countdown_bgCreated with Sketch.

Brexit hopes grew today after Jean-Claude Juncker insisted the two sides 'can have a deal' - despite EU officials dismissing the latest UK proposals.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay hjas been in Brussels for talks with negotiator Michel Barnier as pressure ramps up.

The Pound rose to its highest level for months against the euro and US dollar in the wake of the optimistic words from the commission president.   

In an interview last night, Mr Juncker said the hated Irish backstop could be scrapped as long as 'all' the bloc's demands are met some other way.

He said his lunch with Boris Johnson this week had been 'positive' and the idea of keeping Northern Ireland in step with EU food and agriculture rules, while the UK diverges, was 'the arrival point' of a deal. 

However, officials in Brussels were less positive after being handed details of the UK's proposals on paper for the first time, briefing that the process appeared to be 'going backwards'. 

And Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney warned there was a lot of 'spin' over the negotiations, saying the EU was still waiting for 'serious proposals'. 

Tension is building with just 41 days left until Britain is due to leave the EU - a deadline that Mr Johnson has described as 'do or die'. 

But he is struggling to fend off a massive Remainer bid to prevent No Deal, after a law was passed demanding he begs Brussels for an extension if an agreement has not been reached by October 19.   

Mr Juncker told Sky: 'I don't have an erotic relationship to the backstop. If the results are there, I don't care about it'

Mr Juncker told Sky: 'I don't have an erotic relationship to the backstop. If the results are there, I don't care about it'

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has been in Brussels for talks with negotiator Michel Barnier today (pictured) as pressure ramps up

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has been in Brussels for talks with negotiator Michel Barnier today (pictured) as pressure ramps up

Boris Johnson (pictured at No10 today) has insisted he is working flat-out to get a Brexit deal

Boris Johnson (pictured at No10 today) has insisted he is working flat-out to get a Brexit deal

In a statement following the meeting between Mr Barclay and Mr Barnier, the European commission said a 'fully workable and legally operational solution' for the Irish border was included in the Withdrawal Agreement. 

The statement said they had a discussion on the 'state of play of the ongoing Brexit talks, both in relation to the backstop to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland the the Political Declaration on the future relationship'. 

'Michel Barnier and Steve Barclay agreed that technical talks will continue. These talks deal with a first set of concepts, principles and ideas that the United Kingdom has put forward in talks with TF50 (the EU unit dealing with Brexit). 

'It is essential that there is a fully workable and legally operational solution included in the Withdrawal Agreement. 

'We remain willing and open to examine any such proposals that meet all the objectives of the backstop.' 

Mr Barclay said he was encouraged by the fact the meeting with Mr Barnier overran.

'There's a common purpose both in Dublin, in London and here in Brussels to see a deal over the line,' he said. 

What happens next in the Brexit crisis? 

Here is how the coming weeks could pan out:  

September 21-25: Labour conference in Brighton, PM at UN summit in New York. 

September 29-October 2: Tory conference takes place in Manchester, with Mr Johnson giving his first keynote speech as leader on the final day. This will be a crucial waypointer on how Brexit talks are going.

October 14: Unless it has already been recalled following the court battle, Parliament is due to return with the Queen's Speech - the day before Mr Johnson had hoped to hold a snap election.

October 17-18: A crunch EU summit in Brussels, where Mr Johnson has vowed he will try to get a Brexit deal despite Remainers 'wrecking' his negotiating position. 

October 19: If there is no Brexit deal by this date Remainer legislation obliges the PM to beg the EU for an extension to avoid No Deal.

October 21: Decisive votes on the Queen's Speech, which could pave the way for a confidence vote. 

October 31: The current deadline for the UK to leave the EU. 

November/December: An election looks inevitable, but Labour is hinting it might push the date back towards Christmas to humiliate the PM. 

'I think the fact that the meeting overran today, we were getting into the detail - the technical teams will meet again next week, the Prime Minister and President (Donald) Tusk are expected to meet in the UN as well next week - underscores the purpose there is on both sides to get a deal and that is what we are working very hard to secure.' 

In a typically colourful turn of phrase last night Mr Juncker told Sky News' Sophy Ridge that he did not have an 'erotic relationship' with the backstop. 

'I was asking the Prime Minister the other day to make concrete proposals as far as so-called alternative arrangements are concerned, allowing us and Britain to achieve the main objectives of the backstop,' Mr Juncker said in the interview, to be shown in full on Sunday.

'I don't have an erotic relationship to the backstop. If the results are there, I don't care about it.'

Then asked if that meant it could be removed, he added: 'if the objectives are met - all of them - then we don't need the backstop. 

'It was a guarantee, not an aim by itself.'  

It came after Downing Street hit back hard at EU demands for Britain to hand over its backstop replacement proposals by the end of September as the government said it would formally set out its plans 'when we are ready'.

Finnish PM Antti Rinne and French president Emmanuel Macron reportedly agreed earlier this week that the UK needed to submit a written offer within the next 11 days or face the increased likliehood of a No Deal Brexit.

But Number 10 said yesterday it had no intention of complying with what it described as an 'artificial deadline' as relations between the two sides worsened.

Mr Juncker and Mr Johnson had what seemed a difficult meeting in Luxembourg earlier this week, which forced the Prime Minister to deny a claim from his opponent that there had not yet been any 'legally operational' proposals from the UK. 

The EU chief insisted today his meeting with the PM was 'rather positive', adding: 'We can have a deal.'

But when pressed by the broadcaster if the chances were more than 50/50, he replied: 'I don't know.'

He assured that he is 'doing everything to have a deal' because he wanted to ward off a no deal with 'catastrophic consequences'.

'It's better for Britain and for the European Union to have an organised deal,' he added.

Mr Johnson said last nighthe would not 'exaggerate the progress' being made in Brexit talks but said there had been some movement.

Speaking to reporters on a visit to Wiltshire he 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.

'We want to come out in such a way as to protect Ireland, make sure there isn't a hard border of any kind in Northern Ireland, and make sure we protect the Good Friday peace process and we think we can do that and we think we can find a way forward.

'We think we can solve that problem.'

Mr Juncker and Mr Johnson had a difficult meeting in Luxembourg earlier this week

Mr Juncker and Mr Johnson had a difficult meeting in Luxembourg earlier this week

Mr Barclay said yesterday that Brussels needed to be more 'flexible' in its approach as he suggested the EU was needlessly pushing the two sides towards a bad break on October 31.

Speaking in Madrid, Mr Barclay said Britain should be able to leave the bloc without the backstop and the two sides would then have all of the transition period to December 2020 to hammer out an alternative to prevent a hard Irish border.

The comments are likely to spark anger on the continent because the EU is absolutely adamant that border protection must be in place at the point at which the UK departs.

What is the Irish backstop and why is it so divisive?

The so-called Irish border backstop is one of the most controversial parts of the existing Brexit deal. This is what it means: 

What is the backstop? 

The backstop was invented to meet promises to keep open the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland even if there is no comprehensive UK-EU trade deal.

The divorce deal says it will kick in automatically at the end of the Brexit transition period if that agreement is not in place.

It effectively keeps the UK in a customs union with the EU, and Northern Ireland in both the customs union and single market.

This means many EU laws will keep being imposed on the UK, restricting its ability to do its own trade deals. It also means regulatory checks on some goods crossing the Irish Sea. 

Why have Ireland and the EU demanded it? 

Because the UK is leaving the customs union and single market, the EU said it needed guarantees that people and goods circulating inside its border - in this case in Ireland - met its rules.

This is covered by the Brexit transition, which effectively maintains the status quo, and can in theory be done in the comprehensive EU-UK trade deal.

But the EU said there had to be a backstop to cover what happens in any gap between the transition and final deal.  

Why do critics hate it? 

Because Britain cannot decide when to leave the backstop. 

Getting out - even if there is a trade deal - can only happen if both sides agree and Brexiteers fear the EU will unreasonably demand the backstop continues so EU law continues to apply in Northern Ireland.  

Northern Ireland MPs also hate the regulatory border in the Irish Sea, insisting it unreasonably carves up the United Kingdom.   

What are the UK's new proposals?

The latest blueprint being floated would not be the same as a previous Northern Ireland-only backstop floated by Brussels, which was dismissed by Theresa May as something no British PM could accept.

That would have involved the province staying within the EU's tax jurisdiction.

Instead, the idea is thought to be a much looser alignment of agricultural and food regulations with Ireland. 

That could help avoid many checks on the border, but it is far from clear it would be acceptable either to the EU or the DUP.

Lib Dems get a 'Swinson surge' in the polls after their new leader vows to STOP Brexit if elected prime minister 

The Remainer Lib Dems are now more popular than Labour after vowing to stop Brexit happening, a new poll suggested today.

Jo Swinson's party jumped from 19 per cent to 23 per cent to leapfrog Jeremy Corbyn's bitterly divided outfit, according to the YouGov vote tracker. 

It came after the party used its annual conference at the weekend to vow to revoke Article 50 and keep the UK in the EU if it won a general election.

Meanwhile former prime minister Tony Blair said today that UK political parties should be worried about the Lib Dems as there is a 'great level of frustration' about the direction Labour and the Tories are taking.

Ms Swinson used the speech to lashed out at 'insular, closed and selfish' Brexiteers as she branded Brexit 'the fight of our lives for the heart and soul of Britain'.

The findings may cause alarm at Labour HQ after Jeremy Corbyn suggested he would not choose a side in a second referendum, prompting accusations that the Labour leader wants to continue sitting on the fence over the UK's departure from the EU.

Both parties remain behind Boris Johnson's Conservatives, who remained on 32 per cent, with Nigel Farage's Brexit Party also unmoved on 14 per cent. 

A second poll, by Ipsos Mori, had the Lib Dems third but up by three points to just one point behind Labour on 23 per cent and 24 per cent respectively. It had the Tories down one on 33 per cent. 

In her maiden leadership speech she tore into 'entitled Etonian' Boris Johnson and '1970s socialist' Jeremy Corbyn over their positions on the UK's departure from the EU.  

She accused the Prime Minister of acting like a 'socialist dictator' over Brexit by shutting down dissent and 'purging' his opponents in the Conservative party. 

But it came after she and her party were themselves accused of being undemocratic, after they voted overwhelmingly to revoke Article 50 and halt Brexit without a new referendum if they win a general election.

The Lib Dems will campaign for a second referendum unless there is a general election, in which case they will back staying in the EU, arguing that a victory for them would constitute a mandate for the policy. 

 

Boris Johnson refuses to rule out proroguing Parliament a second time if he loses Supreme Court case saying: 'I will wait to see'

Boris Johnson today refused to rule out proroguing Parliament again if he lost the landmark case at the Supreme Court and said: 'I will wait to see what transpires.'

A bombshell Government legal document today also revealed the Prime Minister may try to resist recalling MPs straight away if the crunch legal battle in Britain's highest court goes against him. 

The Prime Minister was on Salisbury Plain with the Army today where he declined to rule out suspending Parliament again if he lost the Supreme Court case.

He said: 'I have the greatest respect for the judiciary in this country.

'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.' 

Boris Johnson told the BBC today (pictured) that he would 'wait to see' what happened over the prorogation court ruling and did not rule out suspending Parliament a second time

Boris Johnson told the BBC today (pictured) that he would 'wait to see' what happened over the prorogation court ruling and did not rule out suspending Parliament a second time 

Mr Johnson talks shares a joke with British soldiers in Wiltshire today as the Supreme Court case hangs in the balance

Mr Johnson talks shares a joke with British soldiers in Wiltshire today as the Supreme Court case hangs in the balance

A Government legal document reveals that Boris could still be open to proroguing again

A Government legal document reveals that Boris could still be open to proroguing again

Mr Johnson may try to prorogue again or  demand the Queen's Speech goes ahead and summon Her Majesty to Parliament 'in person' - but Parliament could still be shut for around a fortnight. 

The worst case scenario for the PM is that Supreme Court judges intervene and demand MPs return next week. 

But if he wins Parliament will remain closed until October 14. 

Government lawyers have told the 11 judges who will have the final say on whether proroguing Parliament for five weeks is illegal that he could be 'open' to doing it again. 

Boris' top QC, 'Treasury Devil' Sir James Eadie has 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'. 

Could Parliament remain suspended even if Boris Johnson loses the landmark Supreme Court case?

What is the court deciding?

The 11 justices at the Supreme Court in London will rule on appeals from two separate challenges brought in England and Scotland over the suspension - formally known as prorogation - of Parliament.

The High Court in London dismissed a case brought by businesswoman and campaigner Gina Miller. But the Inner House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled that Mr Johnson's decision was unlawful. The Supreme Court's ruling will trump them both.

What if Boris wins?  

The five-week suspension of Parliament - that started ten days ago - will continue until October 14 - the eve of the crunch EU summit where Boris says he will try to get a deal. 

What if Boris loses?    

Because the situation would be unprecedented for a sitting Prime Minister, it is still unclear exactly what would happen next.

A Government legal paper released today says No 10 believes there are three options.

1.) Boris could prorogue Parliament again

The Prime Minister could go to see the Queen to ask her to prorogue Parliament again, this time within the law.

2.) MPs could return straight away

The Supreme Court could rule because Boris Johnson's decision was illegal, Parliament was never properly prorogued and is still in session. 

Gina Miller's QC Lord Pannick said that the proper course for the court 'in these unusual and difficult circumstances (is) to let Parliament sort out the problem'.

He suggested the court should encourage 'the Prime Minister to ensure that Parliament meets as soon as possible next week'.

3.) Boris is forced to summon the Queen to Parliament - but MPs would have to wait

The Government could be forced to bring forward their Queen's Speech - meaning MPs would not return straight away.

Mr Johnson's lawyers says consider the 'very serious practical consequences' as the recall of Parliament would require a meeting of the Privy Council and a new Queen's Speech. 

This could take at least a fortnight. 

A court document says:  'As the court will be well aware, the proper preparations for a Queen's Speech are a matter of thoroughgoing importance, including in relation to the content of that Speech.

'Extensive arrangements would have to be made, including as to security, to enable this to occur.

'These considerations lead to the need for any order that the court makes, if necessary, to allow for these steps relating to the earlier meeting of Parliament to occur in an orderly fashion.'   

It came as the President of the Supreme Court Lady Hale revealed they would give their judgment 'early next week' after three days of evidence in the row over whether the Prime Minister broke the law and lied to the Queen when Parliament was shut to October 14.

She said: 'I must repeat that this case is not about when and on what terms the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

'The result of this case will not determine that. We are solely concerned with the lawfulness of the Prime Minister's decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament'.

On day three of the Supreme Court case, judges heard: 

  • Government lawyers believe a new prorogation if the PM loses the case remains on the table;
  • Lord Garnier QC, representing Sir John Major, said his client had made 'a clear and unambiguous allegation in evidence ... that the reasons (for prorogation) put before the court by the Prime Minister cannot be true'; 
  • Nicola Sturgeon's top lawyer, representing the the Scottish Government, said a five-week prorogation of Parliament as 'an abuse of executive power which calls for the intervention of the court';
  • Supreme Court president Lady Hale knocks back 'No Deal' fears from Northern Ireland QC Ronan Lavery and told him: 'We are not concerned with when and how and on what terms the UK leaves the EU'; 

Documents submitted to the court on Mr Johnson's behalf reveal three possible scenarios in the event the 11 justices conclude the Prime Minister's advice to the Queen to prorogue Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.

The first envisages a situation where the judges find it was unlawful, but their reasoning leaves open the possibility that Parliament could be prorogued for the same length of time in a lawful manner.

The document, submitted by Sir James Eadie QC and Advocate General for Scotland Lord Keen, states: 'In that scenario, the court would and could not make any order purporting to require Parliament to be reconvened... Parliament would remain prorogued.'

The second possible outcome is that the court could find the suspension was unlawful and that the recall of Parliament before October 14 is the 'only option lawfully open to the Prime Minister'.

In this scenario, the document states Mr Johnson would comply with the terms of the ruling, but that it would also be 'open to the court to consider whether to make a mandatory order'.

However, Mr Johnson's lawyers urge the court to consider the 'very serious practical consequences' as the recall of Parliament would require a meeting of the Privy Council and a new Queen's Speech.

The document continues: 'A Queen's Speech, and the State Opening of Parliament which accompanies it, is a significant political, constitutional and ceremonial occasion, which ordinarily involves the Sovereign attending in person.

'As the court will be well aware, the proper preparations for a Queen's Speech are a matter of thoroughgoing importance, including in relation to the content of that Speech.

'Extensive arrangements would have to be made, including as to security, to enable this to occur.

'These considerations lead to the need for any order that the court makes, if necessary, to allow for these steps relating to the earlier meeting of Parliament to occur in an orderly fashion.'

In the third possible outcome, the document states the court could rule that the prorogation was unlawful, with the effect that Parliament was not prorogued and remains in session.

However, Mr Johnson's lawyers assert that, depending on the court's reasoning, it may the mean the Prime Minister consider a new, second, prorogation. 

Summing up the case for arch-Remainer Gina Miller, Lord Pannick QC told the court: 'The central issue is why was it appropriate to prorogue for five weeks, longer - as the court knows - than on any occasion in the past 40 years?'

He added that the decision would have an 'adverse effect on the ability of Parliament to perform its scrutiny functions at this critical time'.

Lord Pannick said: 'The remedy we seek from the court is a declaration that the Prime Minister's advice to Her Majesty was unlawful and we would respectfully ask the court, if it is in our favour, to make such a declaration as soon as possible... because time is of the essence.'

Lord Pannick submitted that the proper course for the court 'in these unusual and difficult circumstances (is) to let Parliament sort out the problem'.

He suggested the court should encourage 'the Prime Minister to ensure that Parliament meets as soon as possible next week'.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks with Lt Alice Strawbridge of the Light Dragoons during his visit on Thursday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks with Lt Alice Strawbridge of the Light Dragoons during his visit on Thursday 

Mr Johnson speaks to military personnel in a hut on Salisbury Plain with controversy over prorogation swirling around him

Mr Johnson speaks to military personnel in a hut on Salisbury Plain with controversy over prorogation swirling around him 

The Prime Minister (pictured speaking to Gurkhas on Salisbury Plain today) is under pressure over his controversial prorogation

The Prime Minister (pictured speaking to Gurkhas on Salisbury Plain today) is under pressure over his controversial prorogation

Boris Johnson speaks to British soldiers as they demonstrate how to fly the 'Black Hornet' micro-drone on Salisbury Plain

Boris Johnson speaks to British soldiers as they demonstrate how to fly the 'Black Hornet' micro-drone on Salisbury Plain

Arch-remainer Gina Miller leaves Supreme Court flanked by police and security today where she is leading the charge against the Prime Minister

Arch-remainer Gina Miller leaves Supreme Court flanked by police and security today where she is leading the charge against the Prime Minister

It came as Sir John Major compared the Prime Minister to a lying estate agent. 

Sir John, the lynchpin in the battle brought by arch-Remainer Gina Miller, says the current Tory leader unlawfully shut down the Commons for five weeks saying his reasons 'cannot be true'. 

Sir John Major is accused of hypocrisy as he slams Boris Johnson for suspending Parliament 

Lord Edward Garnier, representing former British prime minister Sir John Major, said his client who once prorogued Parliament himself, believes Boris is not telling the truth

Lord Edward Garnier, representing former British prime minister Sir John Major, said his client who once prorogued Parliament himself, believes Boris is not telling the truth

Sir John Major was today accused of hypocrisy after he said Boris Johnson broke the law by shutting down the Commons for five weeks despite proroguing Parliament himself in 1997. 

The former Tory prime minister, 76, suspended Parliament  22 years ago to delay publication of a report into the cash-for-questions scandal that rocked his party.

Sir John, who branded Conservative eurosceptics 'b***tards' at the time, was then dumped out of office after Tony Blair's landslide victory for New Labour at the general election a month later.

Cross bench peer Lord Digby Jones, who served as a trade minister under Gordon Brown, said today: 'The Prime Minister prorogues Parliament for a long time for apparently ulterior motives - but that's ok isn't it Sir John Major when it's you who did it in 1997!'.

He added: 'The sheer hypocrisy of Major now shows the lengths Remainer Saboteurs will go to subvert the Will of the People'.

While Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith said: 'So the words 'pot' and 'kettle' do come to mind rather significantly here. John Major going to the Supreme Court to say that somehow it was unlawful, I do recall that this is the same man suddenly prorogued Parliament in the height of the 'cash-of-questions' report and he was highly criticised at the time but he still went ahead'.

He stayed away from the Supreme Court today but his blue-on-blue attack, handed to judges this morning, questions the PM's motives and aims to deliver sledgehammer blow in the landmark legal battle. 

His case is one of two historic appeals being heard at the UK's highest court over three days with the UK's top 11 judges expected to give their judgment next week.    

Sir John Major, 76, who lost power because of eurosceptics in his party he branded b***tards', has faced accusations of hypocrisy because he prorogued Parliament in 1997 to delay publication of a report into the cash-for-questions scandal until after that year's general election.

But his lawyer Lord Garnier QC, a former Tory Solicitor General under David Cameron, denied this and told the Supreme Court that Sir John's decision was not done for 'base political reasons' so was 'different' to the current shut down.

Sir John Major cites a previous court case where an estate agent was found to be in 'breach of fiduciary duty' after he lied that the buyer of a new home would live there - but knew all along the property would be sold again for a profit as soon as the sale completed. 

Sir John argues: 'It could hardly be suggested that the duties of the Prime Minister to the monarch are less than those of an estate agent to a homeowner. Accordingly, if the court is satisfied that the Prime Minister's decision was materially influenced by something other than the stated justification, that decision must be unlawful.'

The Supreme Court also heard from the Scottish and Welsh governments and Northern Ireland victims' campaigner Raymond McCord.

The PM says he has shut down the Commons until October 14 so he can hold a Queen's Speech laying out his new 'bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda'. 

But critics, including Sir John, insist he broke the law and lied to Her Majesty to avoid scrutiny from MPs opposed to his promise to leave the EU on October 31 'no ifs no buts'.

In the papers Sir John argues that Mr Johnson's justification, that he wanted a new Queen's Speech legislative programme 'makes no sense and cannot be the true explanation'.

Boris Johnson (pictured on Salisbury Plain with the Army today) has refused to rule out proroguing again if he loses the Supreme Court case

Boris Johnson (pictured on Salisbury Plain with the Army today) has refused to rule out proroguing again if he loses the Supreme Court case

The Tory leader speaks to the military as the Supreme Court case about his prorogation neared a conclusion today

The Tory leader speaks to the military as the Supreme Court case about his prorogation neared a conclusion today 

Protesters gathered again outside the Supreme Court during a hearing on the legality of proroguing Parliament

Protesters gathered again outside the Supreme Court during a hearing on the legality of proroguing Parliament

Pro Brexit protesters were also there - but judges insist that their decision will not influence 'how and when' the UK leaves the EU

Pro Brexit protesters were also there - but judges insist that their decision will not influence 'how and when' the UK leaves the EU

Sir John wrote that it would be 'artificially naive' for the court to accept Mr Johnson's stated reasons for the prorogation.

He says: 'Its effect is to deprive Parliament of a voice throughout the period of the prorogation. The inference was inescapable that the Prime Minister's decision was motivated, or in any event substantially motivated, by his political interest in ensuring that there was no activity in parliament during the period leading up to the EU Council summit on October 17 and 18'. 

How Parliament was shut down at outbreak of WW1, again after WW2... and also when Sir John Major was PM

The suspension of Parliament has been used for political reasons during key moments in Britain's history, lawyers for the Government argued yesterday.

Rebuking the claims of campaigners, the Government cited how Parliament was broken up – or 'prorogued' – for weeks at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

Legal submissions setting out Boris Johnson's case said 'the history of the power to prorogue Parliament supports the fact that it has been used for political purposes'.

The document said prorogation had been used at times of 'political importance'.

This included 'restricting the time otherwise available to debate legislation', as well as occasions when the 'Government of the day lacked a majority in the House of Commons'. Lord Keen, the Advocate General for Scotland, representing the Government, said Parliament was prorogued from September 18 until October 27, 1914, shortly after the outbreak of war. He told the Supreme Court: 'That clearly was not for the purpose of the King's Speech.'

The written submissions noted that the King's Speech on prorogation at the time called for 'action not speech'.

Lord Keen said the Government arranged for two one-day prorogations in 1948 to force through legislation on how the House of Lords could block bills. 

'This last example was clearly for a party political purpose,' he added. 'It was a naked political reason.'

Sir John Major prorogued Parliament himself ahead of the 1997 general election, which prevented MPs from debating a report on the cash for questions scandal, but has questioned whether the current prorogation by Boris Johnson was done in the best interests of the country. 

On that occasion, the prorogation was for one in say in March and was followed by an election on May 1, resulting in a change of government after Tony Blair's landslide win.

'If that conclusion were correct, the consequence would be that there is nothing in law to prevent a prime minister from proroguing parliament in any circumstances or for any reason,' Sir John wrote. 

Referring to comments by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace apparently linking prorogation to Brexit, Sir John said: 'The court is under no obligation to approach this case on the artificially naive basis that the handful of disclosed documents, the contents of which nobody has been prepared to verify with a statement of truth, should nevertheless be assumed to be entirely accurate and complete when even members of the cabinet do not appear to believe them.' 

The stinging intervention by the former Tory Prime Minister comes in legal papers submitted to the Supreme Court arguing the prorogation was unlawful - something Mr Johnson denies.

Today lawyers for Sir John intervened on day three of the case that could influence whether Britain leaves the EU and Boris will be under huge pressure to resign if the court decides he lied to Her Majesty about the reasons for sending MPs home from Westminster. His pledge to deliver Brexit by Halloween would also suffer a sledgehammer blow.  

Lord Garnier, QC, a former solicitor-general, appeared on behalf of Sir John to challenge Mr Johnson's insistence that the courts have 'no jurisdiction' over prorogation. 

He argued that a future leader 'opposed to the idea of a standing army' could prorogue parliament and disband the military.

Lord Garnier said his client had made 'a clear and unambiguous allegation in evidence ... that the reasons (for prorogation) set out in the documents put before the court by the Prime Minister cannot be true'.

He added: 'Where an allegation of this kind has been made, it would be normal for there at least to be some kind of witness statement.'

Lord Garnier said prorogation did not just stop Parliament from sitting, but prevented it from carrying out other functions - including its ability to find people in contempt.

He told the court people who have been found in contempt of Parliament in recent years included Mr Johnson's senior adviser, Dominic Cummings. 

The Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC, on behalf of the SNP's Scottish Government, has was the first to outline his arguments to the court today.

He told the judges the prorogation was taking place during a 'time-critical period' when the UK Government's decisions are likely to have 'momentous consequences'.

Mr Wolffe said that, 'irrespective of its purpose', any suspension of Parliament called for the 'most cogent justification' and required the court to subject the decision to 'rigorous and searching review'.

Scotland's Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC, who represents the SNP Government, tells the court a 'fundamental principle' of parliamentary accountability is 'at stake' if they side with the PM

Scotland's Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC, who represents the SNP Government, tells the court a 'fundamental principle' of parliamentary accountability is 'at stake' if they side with the PM

Ronan Lavery QC, representing Northern Irish victims' campaigner Raymond McCord, told the court that the EU was 'a peace project' which was 'designed to remove the significance of national identity'

Ronan Lavery QC, representing Northern Irish victims' campaigner Raymond McCord, told the court that the EU was 'a peace project' which was 'designed to remove the significance of national identity'

Mike Fordham QC, speaking on behalf of the Labour Welsh Government, said there are five reasons why Boris Johnson must lose the case

Mike Fordham QC, speaking on behalf of the Labour Welsh Government, said there are five reasons why Boris Johnson must lose the case

The Supreme Court and 11 of its 12 judges are sitting for the third and final day of the case that could decide the direction of Brexit

The Supreme Court and 11 of its 12 judges are sitting for the third and final day of the case that could decide the direction of Brexit

PM finally tells court what he will do if he loses crunch case 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson could shut down Parliament again even if the Supreme Court rules that his original suspension was unlawful.

The Supreme Court is on the final day of a three-day hearing to determine whether Johnson acted unlawfully when he suspended parliament for five weeks in the run-up to Brexit.

'Depending on the court's reasoning it would still either be open or not open to the PM to consider a further prorogation,' the legal submission said. 

It was tweeted by Jo Maugham, a lawyer who successfully brought a challenge in Scotland over the suspension.

Johnson's lawyers had been asked by the court to explain what he would do if the court found against him. The document tweeted by Maugham was their response, he said.

 

Ronan Lavery QC, representing victims' campaigner Raymond McCord, told the court that the EU was 'a peace project' which was 'designed to remove the significance of national identity'.

He added: 'The Good Friday Agreement itself was premised on continuing EU membership.'

He continued: 'The rising tide of nationalism that we are witnessing is poisoning the harmony between the EU states and it is directly effecting Northern Ireland's ability to function.

'Brexit has been recognised as the major impediment to the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

'We are urging the court to look at this legal question in a way that recognises the impact of the impugned decision on Northern Ireland in particular.'

Mr Lavery said that a 'no-deal' exit from the EU would lead to 'the erection of the border' on the island of Ireland.

But Supreme Court president Lady Hale responded: 'We are solely concerned with the lawfulness or otherwise of the Prime Minister's advice to Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament for a period of five weeks.'

She added: 'We are not concerned with when and how and on what terms the UK leaves the EU.'

Mr Lavery referred to Boris Johnson's pledge to leave the UK on October 31 as 'do or die', submitting that 'that battleground language' suggested a 'scorched earth policy in relation to Northern Ireland (which) would be oppressive and would be unconstitutional'.

Lord Wilson said he was 'worried' about Mr Lavery's submissions, as people watching online may have just logged on, heard his points about Brexit and 'may come to entirely the wrong conclusion' that that is what the court is looking at.

Reprimanding the lawyer, the judge added: 'Now, don't abuse our politeness, and don't abuse Lady Hale's patience.'

Box after box of legal documents are wheeled into the Supreme Court today for the third and final day of the crunch court battle

Box after box of legal documents are wheeled into the Supreme Court today for the third and final day of the crunch court battle

Mr Johnson was branded the 'father of lies' yesterday over his decision to suspend MPs from Parliament.

Supreme Court case so far and what happens next

Tuesday, September 18

Morning: Lord Pannick QC, Gina Miller's lawyer launched appeal against her High Court loss arguing that Boris Johnson had abused power and acted illegally by proroguing Parliament for five weeks

Afternoon: Lord Keen QC, a justice minister who is representing Mr Johnson at the Supreme Court, refused to rule out a second prorogation of Parliament if the court decides the first was unlawful - but said the PM would abide by any ruling.

Wednesday, September 19

Morning 

Sir James Eadie, QC for Boris, argued that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to rule on the lawfulness of the length of prorogation. 

Afternoon

Aidan O'Neill QC, acting for SNP MP Joanna Cherry and 75 other MPs and peers, argued judges in Scotland were right to rule the PM acted illegally.

Thursday, September 20 

Ex-Tory PM Sir John Major gave evidence to undermine Boris Johnson's case. There was also evidence given on behalf of the Scottish and Welsh governments as well. 

Tuesday September 24

Predicted date for judgment to be laid down by 11 judges with Lady Hale saying it would be 'early next week' at conclusion of case.

Judges at the Supreme Court were urged to 'stand up' to the Prime Minister and rule he acted unlawfully when he advised the Queen to prorogue Parliament for five weeks, and that he did it for 'improper' political advantage.

In an extraordinary personal attack on Mr Johnson, Aidan O'Neill QC, representing a pro-Remain Scottish MP, said: 'What we have with prorogation is the mother of parliaments closed down by the father of lies.

'Rather than allow lies to triumph, this court should … rule that this prorogation is an unlawful abuse of the power of prorogation which has been entrusted to the Government.'

Ministers are braced for the Supreme Court to limit Mr Johnson's ability to suspend Parliament in future, Government sources said yesterday.

Downing Street had been confident of outright victory in the landmark hearing into whether the Prime Minister broke the law by proroguing Parliament for five weeks. 

But a Government source said that, following the line of questioning from some judges, Ministers are now concerned the court could use the case to fire 'warning shots' over the PM's powers.

The source said: 'No 10 thinks the Supreme Court will say prorogation is justifiable in principle ... and they will fire warning shots about how a government shouldn't use this to close Parliament illegitimately.'

Such a ruling could prevent Mr Johnson from suspending Parliament again next month to prevent MPs blocking a No Deal Brexit – something he has refused to rule out.

Showdown: Britain's 11 most senior judges hear submissions in the Supreme Court yesterday in a case that could change the direction of Brexit

Showdown: Britain's 11 most senior judges hear submissions in the Supreme Court yesterday in a case that could change the direction of Brexit

Former chancellor George Osborne said: 'What's at stake here is not really whether this prorogation should be cancelled … but whether it can be extended or used in future to force a No Deal.'

Stanley Johnson insists his son is not a liar and always tells the truth as he 'sees it'

Stanley Johnson (pictured on Good Morning Britain today) says his son's plan on Brexit is 'going smoothly'

Stanley Johnson (pictured on Good Morning Britain today) says his son's plan on Brexit is 'going smoothly'

Stanley Johnson has defended his son Boris and insisted he has no 'secret plan' to deliver Brexit.

He also denies the Prime Minister is a liar. 

He said: 'We all say the truth how we see the truth and I think Boris does that' 

The environmentalist was also asked whether or not he knew his son's 'secret plan' for Brexit after reports emerged the PM was keeping cards close to his chest.

He said: 'I think he's getting on fine everything is going completely smoothly as far as I can see'.

Mr O'Neill addressed the Supreme Court on behalf of the SNP MP Joanna Cherry, who successfully challenged the Government over prorogation in the Scottish courts – which ruled Mr Johnson's advice to the Queen was unlawful. 

Mr O'Neill said Downing Street memos from August proved the prorogation was intended to avoid Parliamentary scrutiny of ministers over Brexit, and not related to the Queen's Speech, as the Government had argued.

He told the panel of 11 Supreme Court justices: 'One might think that a government would engage solely in high politics as opposed to low, dishonest, dirty tricks. But I'm not sure we can assume that of this government.' 

The three-day emergency hearing at the Supreme Court follows two separate cases, brought in England and in Scotland, which saw senior judges make contradictory rulings.

While Scotland's highest court ruled that the Prime Minister effectively misled the Queen, the High Court in London ruled it was 'purely political' and not a matter for the courts. 

Representing the Prime Minister, Sir James Eadie QC, said courts should not get involved in 'high policy', and argued MPs still had time to vote and pass legislation ahead of the Brexit deadline on October 31. The hearing will finish today.

Some legal pundits speculate that the pointed questions from the 11 justices so far signal that they might rule against the Government. 

The Supreme Court is unlikely to hand down a ruling immediately, given the complexity of the case. 

But judges will be aware Britain is only six weeks from Mr Johnson's 'do or die' Brexit deadline.

The 11 Supreme Court judges set to rule on the key Brexit case 

Lady Hale, Lord Reed, Lord Carnwath, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Hodge, Lord Wilson, Lady Arden, Lady Black, Lord Sales, Lord Kerr and Lord Kitchin will make the final ruling in the Supreme Court (pictured top left to bottom right)

These are the 11 Supreme Court judges who will consider legal challenges to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament:

- Lady Hale, 74, was appointed the first female president of the Supreme Court in 2017 after a varied career as an academic lawyer, law reformer and judge.

A long-standing champion of diversity in the judiciary, she became the first female justice of the court in October 2009, and was appointed deputy president in June 2013.

During her time as deputy president, Yorkshire-born Lady Hale ruled on numerous high-profile cases, including the Brexit appeal.

- Lord Reed, 63, was appointed deputy president of the Supreme Court in June last year and will replace Lady Hale when she retires in January.

One of the court's two Scottish justices, he previously served as a judge in Scotland and sometimes sits as a judge at the European Court of Human Rights and the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal.

He was educated at the universities of Edinburgh and Oxford before qualifying as an advocate in Scotland and a barrister in England and Wales.

- Lord Kerr, 71, is the first justice of the court to come from Northern Ireland, where he served as Lord Chief Justice from 2004 to 2009.

Educated at St Colman's College, Newry, and Queen's University, Belfast, he was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1970, and to the Bar of England and Wales in 1974.

- Lord Wilson, 74, was appointed in 2009, having previously been a judge in the High Court's family division and the Court of Appeal.

- Lord Carnwath, 74, studied at Cambridge and was called to the Bar in 1968. He served as Attorney General to the Prince of Wales from 1988 to 1994.

While a judge of the Chancery Division, he was also chairman of the Law Commission and, between 2007 and 2012, was Senior President of Tribunals.

- Lord Hodge, 66, the court's other Scottish justice, was previously the Scottish judge in Exchequer Causes, one of the Scottish intellectual property judges, a judge in the Lands Valuation Appeal Court and a commercial judge.

- Lady Black, 65, a justice since 2017, carried out a broad range of civil and criminal work during her early career as a barrister before specialising in family law.

She has served as a High Court judge and Lady Justice of Appeal.

Lady Black taught law at Leeds Polytechnic in the 1980s, was a founding author of the definitive guide to family law practice in England and Wales, and continues to serve as a consulting editor.

- Lord Lloyd-Jones, 67, was born and brought up in Pontypridd, South Wales, where his father was a school teacher, and is the court's first justice to come from Wales.

A Welsh speaker, he was appointed to the High Court in 2005, and acted as adviser to the court in the Pinochet litigation before the House of Lords.

- Lady Arden, 72, who grew up in Liverpool, began her judicial career in 1993 after working as a barrister, QC, and Attorney General of the Duchy of Lancaster.

She became a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2011, and sits as a judge of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

- Lord Kitchin, 64, was called to the Bar in 1977 and his practice covered intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, copyright, designs and trade secrets.

He has also served as a High Court judge and as a Lord Justice of Appeal.

- Lord Sales, 57, is the youngest of the court's justices and was appointed in January, having worked as a barrister and QC before his appointment to the High Court in 2008.

He was vice-president of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, served as deputy chairman of the Boundary Commission for England and was appointed as a Lord Justice of Appeal.

 ...and the key players in the high profile Brexit legal battle

As the Supreme Court considers legal challenges to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to prorogue Parliament, here is a look at the key players in the case before the UK's highest court.

The court hears appeals on cases of the greatest public importance where it is considered there is an arguable point of law.

Now the Supreme Court, which will sit as a panel of 11 justices for only the second time in its 10-year history, must reconcile contradictory judgments issued by the English and Scottish courts.

- Gina Miller

The investment fund manager and campaigner first came to public prominence in 2016 when she launched a legal challenge to then prime minister Theresa May's decision to use the royal prerogative to trigger Article 50, starting a two-year countdown to the UK's departure from the EU.

The High Court ruled that the prime minister did not have the power to trigger Article 50 without the authority of Parliament, a ruling ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court in January 2017.

- Boris Johnson

Mr Johnson was appointed Prime Minister on July 24, after refusing to rule out proroguing Parliament during the contest to succeed Mrs May as leader of the Conservative Party.

The Queen prorogued Parliament, on Mr Johnson's advice, on August 28 after Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, Lords Leader Baroness Evans and chief whip Mark Spencer flew to Balmoral for a Privy Council meeting.

A handwritten note of Mr Johnson's dated August 16, replying to advice on prorogation, said Parliament sitting in September was a 'rigmarole introduced ... to show the public that MPs were earning their crust, so I do not see anything especially shocking about this prorogation'.

An unredacted version of the note leaked to Sky News revealed Mr Johnson wrote that the 'rigmarole' had been 'introduced by girly swot (former prime minister David) Cameron'.

- Joanna Cherry QC MP and others

SNP MP Joanna Cherry, pictured at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, described the ruling as 'historic' and 'fantastic'

SNP MP Joanna Cherry, pictured at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, described the ruling as 'historic' and 'fantastic'

Joanna Cherry, a barrister-turned-MP and the SNP's justice and home affairs spokeswoman, is the lead claimant in the proceedings brought in Scotland.

What happens next in the Brexit crisis? 

Here is how the coming weeks could pan out: 

September 17 to September 19: Supreme Court hears case on whether prorogation of Parliament was illegal. 

September 21-25: Labour conference in Brighton 

September 29-October 2: Tory conference takes place in Manchester, with Mr Johnson giving his first keynote speech as leader on the final day. This will be a crucial waypointer on how Brexit talks are going.

October 14: Unless it has already been recalled, Parliament is due to return with the Queen's Speech - the day before Mr Johnson had hoped to hold a snap election.

October 17-18: A crunch EU summit in Brussels, where Mr Johnson has vowed he will try to get a Brexit deal despite Remainers 'wrecking' his negotiating position. 

October 19: If there is no Brexit deal by this date Remainer legislation obliges the PM to beg the EU for an extension to avoid No Deal.

October 21: Decisive votes on the Queen's Speech, which could pave the way for a confidence vote. 

October 31: The current deadline for the UK to leave the EU. 

The case is brought by a total of 79 petitioners, including Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Plaid Cymru's Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts.

- Sir John Major

Sir John served as prime minister between 1990 and 1997, taking over from Margaret Thatcher and defeating Labour leader Neil Kinnock in the 1992 general election before losing to Tony Blair's New Labour in 1997.

In July, after Mr Johnson refused to rule out prorogation, Sir John told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that it would be 'utterly and totally unacceptable' for any British premier to shut down Parliament.

The former prime minister said he would bring a judicial review against any attempt to do so and intervened in Mrs Miller's High Court case in September. 

His lawyers have been given permission to make oral submissions at the Supreme Court hearing.

However, Sir John himself controversially prorogued Parliament ahead of the 1997 general election, which prevented a report on the cash for questions scandal being considered by MPs.

- Baroness Chakrabarti

The peer (below left) was director of civil liberties organisation Liberty from 2003 to 2016, during which time she was described by the Sun newspaper as 'the most dangerous woman in Britain'.

Following her appointment in 2016 as the chairwoman of an inquiry into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, Baroness Chakrabarti was nominated to the House of Lords and subsequently appointed Labour's shadow attorney general.

MP Shami Chakrabarti leaves the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom for a lunch break,
Northern Ireland victims' rights campaigner Raymond McCord leaves the Supreme Court

MP Shami Chakrabarti and Raymond McCord at the Supreme Court this week

- Raymond McCord

The victims' rights campaigner (above, right), whose son was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1997, is one of three individuals bringing a legal challenge in Belfast, arguing that a no-deal Brexit would damage the Northern Ireland peace process.

Unlike in England and Wales and Scotland, cases in Northern Ireland cannot leapfrog straight to the Supreme Court, so Mr McCord's case was heard by the Court of Appeal in Belfast on Monday - and he has also been given permission to intervene at the Supreme Court. 

 

 

 

 

Brexit hopes rise after Jean-Claude Juncker says 'we CAN get a deal'

The comments below have not been moderated.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.