“The claim that the government is considering proroguing parliament in Sept in order to stop MPs debating Brexit is entirely false”

Downing Street source

August 27, 2019

Claim

The BBC political correspondent Iain Watson received the below response after asking Downing Street to respond to rumours that the government was considering proroguing parliament. The statement did not deny that the government was considering proroguing parliament, only that the motive was related to Brexit.

Facts

Evidence that the prorogation was intended to prevent MPs debating emerged when the Court of Sessions, Scotland’s highest court, ruled on 11 September that the prorogation was “motivated by the improper purpose of stymying parliament.” The Supreme Court upheld the Court of Sessions ruling, but did not address the question of whether this was the government’s intention — merely that it had that effect.

The challenge was brought by SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC, Jolyon Maugham QC, and a large cross-party group of MPs and peers. The key to their success was Downing Street’s failure to provide a single witness statement on the reasons for proroguing parliament. As Joanna Cherry pointed out in parliament on 9 September, not one government official or minister was prepared to state on oath in a sworn statement the reasons for prorogation. Cherry suggested they would not stand “for fear of perjuring themselves.”

The court’s finding has been supported by experts, including the constitutional lawyer David Allen Green who said the lack of a witness statement made it possible for the judges “to find that the reason for the prorogation was a bad one and not that officially stated.”

Verdict

The Downing Street source’s statement to Iain Watson had no credibility.

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