Scottish court considers blocking British parliament suspension

LONDON, dpa correspondents (dpa)- A Scottish court is hearing a motion that could block Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plan to suspend parliament from mid-September to mid-October.
The Court of Session in Edinburgh said Thursday that it's considering whether to issue an interim interdict - Scotland's equivalent of an injunction - that would prevent the suspension pending a full hearing due to begin on September 10.

The bid is backed by 75 British lawmakers.
Critics have deemed the suspension an attempt by Johnson to rob opposition lawmakers of time to block a no-deal Brexit, meaning Britain would leave the European Union on October 31 without a negotiated settlement.
Johnson lost the leader of his party in Scotland on Thursday as part of the backlash against his plan. Ruth Davidson had been a prominent campaigner for Britain to remain in the EU and had clashed with Johnson over the issue.
"While I have not hidden the conflict I have felt over Brexit, I have attempted to chart a course for our party which recognizes and respects the referendum result, while seeking to maximize opportunities and mitigate risks for key Scottish businesses and sectors," Davidson wrote.
She cited family reasons as the "biggest change" that had caused her to reconsider her role.
"I fear that having tried to be a good leader over the years, I have proved a poor daughter, sister, partner and friend," she wrote.
Davidson is widely credited with turning around the fortunes of the Scottish Conservatives, but she did not back Johnson in the Tory leadership race and has said she cannot support a no-deal Brexit.
Johnson acknowledged the loss in a series of tweets on Thursday, saying Davidson had "dedicated so much time and energy to the role and has been instrumental in the revival of our electoral fortunes in Scotland."
In another blow to Johnson on Thursday, George Young, a whip in the House of Lords, resigned from the Tory front bench over the prime minister's decision to suspend parliament, the British Press Association reported.
In his resignation letter, Young said the move was not motivated by a desire to remain in the EU, but that he was "unpersuaded by the reasons given for [the decision to suspend parliament], which I believe risks undermining the fundamental role of parliament at a critical time in our history."
Thousands of people took to the streets of London, Edinburgh and other large cities late Wednesday to protest the plan to suspend parliamentary sessions from mid-September until mid-October.
Johnson, who became premier in July, said the break was necessary for his government to be able to formally launch its legislative agenda for the coming year.
Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leading Conservative eurosceptic, said that the outrage was "phoney" and had been "created by people who don't want us to leave the European Union and are trying very hard to overturn the referendum result."
"Parliament wasn't going to be sitting for most of this time anyway - this is completely constitutional and proper," Rees-Mogg said.
Parliamentary speaker John Bercow was one of a string of politicians to slam the plan as "unconstitutional."
An online petition calling for the British government not to suspend parliament has gathered more than 1 million signatures.
The threshold an online petition has to reach in order to be debated in the House of Commons - 100,000 signatures - was surpassed just a few hours after it was set up on Wednesday.
Ireland's minister for European affairs, Helen McEntee, said Thursday that a no-deal Brexit was "more likely" after Johnson’s move to suspend parliament.
Speaking on national broadcaster RTE’s Morning Ireland programme, McEntee said what had happened in Britain over the last three years was unprecedented.
"The only vote where there has been a majority is to avoid a no deal and yet we now have a prime minister who is suspending parliament for four to five weeks," she said.

Friday, August 30th 2019
dpa correspondents

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