Politics

Brexit revenge: Boris Johnson ready to crush rulings by UK judges undermining his plans

Brexit ‘has been a success’ says Lee Anderson

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The Prime Minister is said to want to strip back the power of the courts if heavy-handed judges set precedents likely to damage the legal system in the long term. Ministers are drafting up plans for an annual “Interpretation Bill” that would let MPs strike out judicial reviews they disagree with.

The Government says the bill would reinforce that the UK Parliament is sovereign.

Critics have been left concerned by the planned move, warning it risks undermining the importance of an independent judiciary.

Mr Johnson is said to still be furious his Brexit plans were scuppered by the Supreme Court in 2019 and is keen to go ahead with the plans to reel in the judiciary.

In September 2019 the UK’s highest court ruled that it was illegal for the Prime Minister to have recommended to the Queen that Parliament should be prorogued for five weeks.

Mr Johnson had sought to suspend the Commons sitting until after Britain left the EU on the then-deadline of October 31.

Following the court’s ruling, MPs returned to the Chamber and passed legislation requiring the UK to ask for another extension to leaving the bloc.

The Prime Minister argued the decisions on the Supreme Court and MPs undermined his negotiation strategy with Brussels.

According to The Times, he has ordered Justice Secretary Dominic Raab to cut back judges’ powers to rule on the legality of ministerial decisions.

Attorney General Suella Braverman hinted at the changes last month when in a speech to the Public Law Project Conference, she said: “What we have seen is a huge increase in political litigation — that is to say, litigation seeking to use the court system, and judicial review, to achieve political ends.”

She added: “If we keep asking judges to answer inherently political questions, we are ignoring the single most important decision-maker in our system: the British people.”

Hitting at another area of planned judicial reform, Mr Raab told Times Radio yesterday he wanted to “correct” the balance between freedom of speech and privacy, saying court rulings not he matter had been influenced by European ideology.

He said: “We don’t have the continental style, privacy law protections.

“And I think, if we were going to go down that route, it should have been decided by elected politicians.

“And I think that’s a good example of the kind of balance that we can strike with our own homegrown approach to this rather than the over reliance on a continental model, which is effectively what the Human Rights Act has left us with.”

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It is claimed Mr Raab’s predecessor, Robert Buckland, was sacked from his post in the September Cabinet reshuffle because he would not follow through with Mr Johnson’s demands for reform.

His dismissal shocked Westminster, with the popular minister seen as being a competent member of the Government front bench.

However, it is claimed in private, Mr Buckland and Mr Johnson openly clashed on judicial reforms.

Attacking the Government over the proposed changes, Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project, who has been accused of undermining ministers’ Brexit plans on multiple occasions by bringing legal challenges, said the Prime Minister was seeking “a more compliant judiciary”.

He added: “It’s very important the government doesn’t do anything more to weaken the delicate constitutional balance we have.

“This executive can and does bully its MPs to get what it wants.

“All judges do is uphold the will of Parliament.”

The Ministry of Justice has not commented on the claims.

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