British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is fighting for his political survival following a ruling from Britain's Supreme Court Tuesday that his decision to suspend Parliament earlier this month was unlawful.
The ruling means British lawmakers will return to Parliament Wednesday, as calls grow for Johnson's resignation. Britain is still due to leave the European Union Oct. 31, although that so-called Brexit process has now been thrown into further doubt.
The 11 Supreme Court judges ruled unanimously against Johnson, a decision they described as "a judgment on the boundaries of government power."
“The decision to advise her majesty to prorogue Parliament was unlawful, because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification,” Brenda Hale, head of the Supreme Court, said Tuesday morning.
The Supreme Court's decision that Johnson acted illegally in advising the queen to suspend Parliament is a political earthquake that has shaken the pillars of British democracy.
Meeting U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York Tuesday, Johnson remained defiant.
“We respect the judiciary in our country. We respect the court. I disagree profoundly with what they had to say. And frankly, I think we need to get on with Brexit,” Johnson said.
Trump offered words of support.
“The results will start to show in November. But it looks to me like he is making great progress,” Trump told reporters in New York.
Johnson is due back in London on Wednesday. So are British lawmakers who will return to Parliament Wednesday morning, ready to resume battle with the government.
Opposition party leaders have called for Johnson to step down.
“There’s been some suggestion Johnson should resign. He has lied to the queen, and could there be a greater offense of the prime minister than that? I don’t think he will resign. He doesn’t strike me as the resigning type. So, I think we are talking about a vote of no confidence, and I would be surprised if there wasn’t one in the coming weeks,” said David Henig, an analyst at the European Center for International Political Economy.
Such a vote of no confidence could force a general election, something that Johnson’s Conservatives also want.
“The Conservatives are ahead in the polls. If they run a good campaign, there’s no reason why they couldn’t strengthen their position. And potentially many of the MPs on their own side who have caused problems in the last few years wouldn’t be around in the new Parliament,” said Henig.
Further court battles may lie ahead. Johnson says he will refuse to ask the EU for a Brexit extension, despite legislation mandating him to do so if they can’t agree to a deal. However, any backsliding on Brexit would likely see the Conservatives lose votes to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.