LONDON (AP) — British lawmakers are returning to the House of Commons on Wednesday after the bombshell Supreme Court ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted illegally by suspending Parliament.
The historic move backed Parliament’s sovereignty and slapped down what justices viewed as an effort by Johnson to squelch debate on Brexit. The prime minister is hurrying back to London after cutting short a trip to the U.N. General Assembly amid demands for his resignation from furious opposition parties.
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. Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the government “respected” the court decision but refused to apologize for breaking the law.
“I think it’s important to stress that while the Supreme Court was clear, there is a respectable legal opinion that disagrees with that view,” Gove told the BBC. “It’s perfectly possible in a democracy to say you respect a judgment and will comply with the judgment, but you also note that there are a range of views about the appropriateness of a particular course of action.”
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said that Johnson should apologize 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 Oct. 31 departure from the European Union.
“I think he should apologize to her (the Queen) for the advice he gave her, but more importantly, apologize 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 Oct. 31,” Corbyn told the BBC.
Johnson remains on a collision course with Parliament over his determination to extract Britain from the EU on Oct. 31, even if no divorce deal is reached. Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek an extension if there is no deal, but Johnson says he won’t do that under any circumstances.
Johnson is likely to address Parliament on Wednesday afternoon but has begun to position himself as the champion of the people facing a recalcitrant establishment bent on frustrating the 2016 Brexit vote.
In his speech 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.
“And this went on forever,” he quipped, “a bit like the experience of Brexit in the U.K, if some of our parliamentarians had their way.”