LADY Hale exhorted us to read the judgment of the 11 Supreme Court Justices in full. We have now done that. The judgment is fairly short, written in plain English and a pleasure to read. It was a delight also to hear Lady Hale read from the judgment.

We started by wondering why no policeman had yet knocked at the door of No 10 but soon realised that it is still not too late for that.

The Supreme Court made it clear that the Prime Minister and others had acted unlawfully in proroguing Parliament. The PM disagrees with the judgment and that is his opinion, just as it can be anyone’s opinion. The difference is that he is the one who is the suspect found guilty of unlawful activity and has failed to adduce any evidence to exonerate himself.

Others have been found guilty by some association but that can be dealt with later. Again, there is the court of public opinion and it is pretty clear what its judgment is. One might also express the opinion that 11 Supreme Court Justices cannot all be wrong.

The choice of “unlawful” rather than “illegal” by the Supreme Court is no doubt significant. It may simply be a matter of semantics. The concise Oxford dictionary lists as a meaning for “unlawful” as “illegal”. It may be that “unlawful” is to be taken as meaning “not full of laws”; in other words, there is in fact no statute. Nonetheless, the use of “unlawful” is fully valid as a judgment.

One of the most important parts of the judgment is that there is no further action to be taken by the Supreme Court and that the responsibility for appropriate action now rests solely with Parliament. That is the problem now. Ian Blackford immediately said that the Opposition should pass a vote of no confidence “as soon as possible” and that “we cannot leave him in office. He has to be removed”.

The SNP continue to press the need to install an interim Prime Minister after a vote of no confidence and are still trying to get agreement with Her Majesty’s Opposition and other parties on tactics and on who might be the temporary PM.

Apart from that, there seems to be agreement on the need for Boris Johnson to be stopped in his tracks and to be prevented from defying the law again. Listening to him on Wednesday it was obvious that he was rallying the conference for the General Election, and we learned on Wednesday evening of proposals to the European Union regarding Ireland, none of which give any hope and certainly not in any realistic timescale.

Gina Miller’s words were: “MPs must get back and be brave and bold in holding this unscrupulous government to account”.

The PM has also indicated – and, so far, has not retracted – that he will again break the law in not implementing the Benn Act of Parliament, which requires that the European Union is to be asked for an extension to the Brexit timetable. That is even more serious in that there is now that law on the statute book.

We were surprised today on listening to The World at One to hear Matt Hancock (Health Secretary) express the opinion that there is no “spirit of the law”. We have always believed that the letter of the law and the spirit of the law complement each other.

Our only hope now is that this week will bring agreement among those who have the power to save the country from a dangerous Brexit and from further damage to the (albeit largely unwritten) constitution, without further need of guidance from the wisdom of the 11 members of the Supreme Court.

Robert Mac Lachlan and Brian Patton
Foulden, Berwickshire