Judges tell Prime Minister he is wrong

The Supremes: Lady Hale is the first female president of the UK Supreme Court.

Was the Supreme Court verdict right? Yesterday, all 11 judges agreed on the big decision that the prime minister has broken the law. What is the Supreme Court and how does it work?

What’s happening

Yesterday, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the Prime Minister unlawfully closed down parliament last month. The official term for closing parliament is “proroguing” it.

Lawyers challenged Boris Johnson’s decision to close down parliament, arguing he did it to illegally stop MPs from blocking his Brexit plan.

Find out more

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the UK, which means it has the power to overrule the decisions of all other UK courts. Its job is to make sure that the law is always being applied fairly.

When lower courts could not agree about whether the government’s actions were lawful, the case was sent to the Supreme Court.

There, 11 judges decided that, as the government gets its power from the elected members of parliament, the prime minister cannot shut down parliament to get what he wants.

It is one of the most important legal rulings ever. Some people think the court should not have had a say.

The Supreme Court cannot change laws made by parliament. However, it can step in if the government abuses its power. This is what it says happened yesterday.

Did the judges make the right decision?

Some say…

No. Lots of people who support Brexit are very angry. They say that judges are not elected by the people, so they should not get a say in what the government does. They say that the people of the UK have voted for Brexit, and that parliament and the courts are trying to go against a democratic vote.

Others think…

Yes. The lawyers are not making the decision based on their own feelings. They are obeying the law and applying it to the actions of the prime minister. The fact is that the government cannot shut down parliament when it likes. If it does, it is silencing the people’s elected MPs and breaking the law. End of story.

You Decide

  1. Why do we need a Supreme Court?

Activities

  1. Imagine you are interviewing one of the judges about the court’s ruling. Write down five questions that you would ask them about what happened.

Some People Say...

“It is legal because I wish it.”

Louis XIV

What do you think?

Word Watch

Parliament
Made up of the House of Common, who are elected MPs, and the House of Lords.
Illegally
Against the law.
Brexit plan
Britain is supposed to be leaving the European Union on 31 October.
Applied
Used in the correct way for the situation.
Elected
Chosen by people’s votes in elections.
Democratic
When the government must represent the people.

Subjects

PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.