Britain’s House of Commons reconvened Wednesday, a day after the bombshell Supreme Court ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had acted illegally by suspending Parliament, and lawmakers immediately demanded answers about how the suspension came about in the first place.
The historic court ruling backed Parliament’s sovereignty and slapped down what justices viewed as Johnson’s effort to squelch debate on Brexit, the country’s most politically divisive issue in years.
Johnson remains on a collision course with Parliament over his determination to pull Britain out of the European Union on October 31 even if no divorce deal is reached. Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek a Brexit extension if there is no deal, but Johnson says he won’t do that under any circumstances.
The prime minister flew back to London in the morning, cutting short a trip to the UN General Assembly as demands for his resignation rose from opposition parties after the court ruling.
In New York, Johnson brushed aside questions about whether he would resign, said he “strongly” disagreed with the court decision and suggested he might try to suspend Parliament for a second time.
In the House of Commons, newly-returned lawmakers focused their ire Wednesday on Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, who was forced to concede that he may have to make further disclosures about his advice that the suspension was legal.
“I am bound by the long-standing convention that the views of the law officers are not disclosed outside the government without their consent,” Cox said.
“However, I will consider over the coming days whether the public interest might require a greater disclosure of the advice given to the government.”
Johnson will address Parliament on Wednesday afternoon but, looking ahead to a possible early general election, has begun to position himself as the champion of the people facing a recalcitrant establishment bent on frustrating the 2016 Brexit vote.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said Johnson should say he was sorry to the public and to Queen Elizabeth II for telling her that Parliament should be suspended. The suspension would have limited debate before Britain’s scheduled October 31 departure from the 28-nation bloc.
“I think he should apologise to her [the Queen] for the advice he gave her but, more importantly, apologise to the British people for what he’s done in trying to shut down our democracy at a very crucial time when people are very, very worried about what will happen on October 31,” Corbyn told the BBC.
The lawmakers on Wednesday will also discuss Brexit readiness preparations and the collapse of tour operator Thomas Cook, which is estimated to cost the government 100 million pounds ($125 million) as it repatriates some 150,000 travellers home to Britain.
In his speech to the UN in New York, Johnson mentioned Brexit only once – as a pointed aside while recalling the myth of Prometheus, who was chained to a rock by Zeus and sentenced to have his liver eaten out by an eagle for eternity.