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PM Meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker

Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker at lunchtime today 16 September 2019.

The Brexit Secretary and Michel Barnier were also in attendance.

The leaders took stock of the ongoing talks between the UK’s team and Taskforce 50. The Prime Minister reconfirmed his commitment to the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and his determination to reach a deal with the backstop removed, that UK parliamentarians could support. The Prime Minister also reiterated that he would not request an extension and would take the UK out of the EU on the 31st October.

The leaders agreed that the discussions needed to intensify and that meetings would soon take place on a daily basis. It was agreed that talks should also take place at a political level between Michel Barnier and the Brexit Secretary, and conversations would also continue between President Juncker and the Prime Minister.

Operation Yellowhammer

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The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has written to Dominic Grieve QC MP and Hilary Benn MP, in response to the Humble Address Motion passed on Monday 9 September 2019. This is related to the request for the Government to release documents and communications associated with the Yellowhammer operation.

Operation Yellowhammer is the codename used by the Government for contingency planning in the event of the UK leaving the EU without an agreement. It is supposed to represent “worst-case” scenarios.

Dominic Grieve’s Humble Address (arcane Parliamentary jargon)

That an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that she will be graciously pleased to direct Ministers to lay before this House, not later than 11.00pm Wednesday 11 September, all correspondence and other communications (whether formal or informal, in both written and electronic form, including but not limited to messaging services including WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Facebook messenger, private email accounts both encrypted and unencrypted, text messaging and iMessage and the use of both official and personal mobile phones) to, from or within the present administration, since 23 July 2019 relating to the prorogation of Parliament sent or received by one or more of the following individuals: Hugh Bennett, Simon Burton, Dominic Cummings, Nikki da Costa, Tom Irven, Sir Roy Stone, Christopher James, Lee Cain or Beatrice Timpson; and that Ministers be further directed to lay before this House no later than 11.00pm Wednesday 11 September all the documents prepared within Her Majesty’s Government since 23 July 2019 relating to operation Yellowhammer and submitted to the Cabinet or a Cabinet Committee.

Michael Gove’s letter to Dominic Grieve

Correspondence with Dominic Grieve QC MP (pdf)

and his letter to Hilary Benn

Correspondence with Hilary Benn MP (pdf)

In addition the document relating to operation Yellohammer was released and is available at

Operation Yellowhammer: HMG Reasonable Worst Case Planning Assumptions

(local copies available)

Joanna Cherry Judicial Review Appeal

At an initial hearing in the Scottish Court of Session held on 3 Sep 2019, a petition for Judicial Review was dismissed by Lord Doherty finding that the PM’s advice on prorogation was, as a matter of high policy and political judgement, non-justiciable. There were no legal standards by which the courts could assess the decision. Even if this was wrong, Lord Doherty added, he was not persuaded, on what he had seen, that the reasons for the advice were unlawful.

The appeal to this decision was heard on 5-6 September and a summary of the appeal was released on 11 September.

The Inner House of the Court of Session has ruled that the Prime Minister’s advice to HM the Queen that the United Kingdom Parliament should be prorogued from a day between 9 and 12 September until 14 October was unlawful because it had the purpose of stymying Parliament.

This is a summary of the opinions of the court, which have been issued in draft form to the parties in light of the urgency of the case. This summary is provided to assist in understanding the court’s judgment. It does not form part of the reasons for the decision. The full opinion of the court is the only authoritative document.

The full opinions will be available on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website at 12 noon on Friday 13 September 2019.

http://www.scotland-judiciary.org.uk/9/2261/Joanna-Cherry-QC-MP-and-others-for-Judicial-Review

The Lord President, Lord Carloway, decided that although advice to HM the Queen on the exercise of the royal prerogative of prorogating Parliament was not reviewable on the normal grounds of judicial review, it would nevertheless be unlawful if its purpose was to stymie parliamentary scrutiny of the executive, which was a central pillar of the good governance principle enshrined in the constitution; this followed from the principles of democracy and the rule of law. The circumstances in which the advice was proffered and the content of the documents produced by the respondent demonstrated that this was the true reason for the prorogation.

Lord Brodie considered that whereas when the petition was raised the question was unlikely to have been justiciable, the particular prorogation that had occurred, as a tactic to frustrate Parliament, could legitimately be established as unlawful. This was an egregious case of a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behaviour of public authorities. It was to be inferred that the principal reasons for the prorogation were to prevent or impede Parliament holding the executive to account and legislating with regard to Brexit, and to allow the executive to pursue a policy of a no deal Brexit without further Parliamentary interference.

Lord Drummond Young determined that the courts have jurisdiction to decide whether any power, under the prerogative or otherwise, has been legally exercised. It was incumbent on the UK Government to show a valid reason for the prorogation, having regard to the fundamental constitutional importance of parliamentary scrutiny of executive action. The circumstances, particularly the length of the prorogation, showed that the purpose was to prevent such scrutiny. The documents provided showed no other explanation for this. The only inference that could be drawn was that the UK Government and the Prime Minister wished to restrict Parliament.

The decision has been appealed by the Government to the Supreme Court which is due to be heard on 17 September 2019, together with an appeal by Miller et al on the decision in the case of Miller v The Prime Minister held on 5 September.

Associated articles

https://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2019/09/11/a-tale-of-two-judgments-scottish-court-of-session-rules-prorogation-of-parliament-unlawful-but-high-court-of-england-and-wales-begs-to-differ/

https://theweeflea.com/2019/09/12/heroes-of-the-people-the-politicisation-of-the-judiciary/

R (Gina Miller) v The Prime Minister

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An application for a judicial review of the decision to prorogue Parliament was made by Gina Miller and heard at the High Court in London on 6 September 2019. The judgement was published on 11 September 2019.

R (Gina Miller) v The Prime Minister [2019] EWHC 2381

https://www.judiciary.uk/judgments/press-statement-gina-miller-v-the-prime-minister-others/

The court concluded that the claim, that the advice given was unlawful and an abuse of power, is not capable of being determined by the courts (i.e.the claim is non justiciable).

The court also certified pursuant to section 12(3A)(c) of the Administration of Justice Act 1969 that a sufficient case for an appeal to the Supreme Court has been made out to justify an application for leave to bring such an appeal.

The appeal has been scheduled for a hearing in the Supreme Court next Tuesday, 17 Sep 2019.

Getting ready for Brexit campaign

If you think that the UK will ever leave the EU you may want to take a look at a new Government initiative, launched on 1 Sep 2019.

The Government has launched a new public information campaign, “Get Ready for Brexit“, that will be available across TV, Social Media Billboards and other platforms.

Government research shows that only 50% of the population think it’s likely the UK will leave the EU on 31 October, 42% of small-to-medium sized businesses are unsure of how they can get ready and just 31% of the British public have looked for information on how to prepare for Brexit.

The campaign will tackle this head on by setting out what all members of the public and business owners might need to do, if anything, to get ready to leave the EU on 31 October.

Audiences including UK citizens intending to travel to Europe and all exporters to the EU will be targeted, alongside groups requiring particular information such as the equine industry and legal professions.

Some of the key actions audiences need to take include:

  • Acquiring an Economic Operator Registration and Identification number to export to the EU. Businesses that are VAT registered will automatically issued an EORI number, but micro businesses still need to register themselves.
  • Obtaining the correct documents to transport goods at the border.
  • Applying for the vital support packages available for businesses, such as grants.
  • Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said:

    Ensuring an orderly Brexit is not only a matter of national importance, but a shared responsibility.

    This campaign will encourage the country to come together to Get Ready for Brexit on 31 October.

    Advertising accompanied with targeted road shows and events will drive people to GOV.UK, which has a new checker tool so audiences can identify what they need to do to get ready for Brexit quickly.

    https://www.gov.uk/brexit

    https://www.gov.uk/get-ready-brexit-check

    There will be how to videos and step by step guides – so whether you are a small business owner, haulier or EU citizen residing in the UK – the actions you need to take to prepare will be clear and simple.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/get-ready-for-brexit-campaign-launched

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