Professor Howarth is interviewed by CBR Policy Associate Boni Sones OBE, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com
This interview was recorded on 12 September 2019 before the historic UK Supreme Court judgement that the proroguing of Parliament was “unlawful”.
David Howarth, the Professor of law and public policy University of Cambridge and a former Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, tells us why there are good reasons to suggest that the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson should have already stepped down regardless of whether or not he is found to have “misled” the Queen by the Supreme Court.
Howarth key quote: “The Commons on Monday again turned down the request for a dissolution of parliament a second time. It is now clear the PM can’t get a dissolution. On that basis he should resign. It doesn’t matter if he has mislead the Queen. That is the icing on the cake. At that time he should have resigned and become a caretaker PM and in that time the Cabinet Minister and the Queen’s Private Secretary liaise to see if anyone else can form a government.”
Howarth argues that Parliament is not now prorogued and there is an order from the Scottish courts that says the prorogation has no effect, so under Standing Order 9 then Parliament should have met, they should just go into work in the normal way at 9.30 am. “You can’t explain why the House is not meeting”, he said.
He says even if Johnson did agree a deal with the EU, there may not be a majority for it in Parliament, and that the WAB (Withdrawal and Implementation Bill) would not get through, but if it did have a majority then the Lords may filibuster it just as Conservatives tried recently with the Benn Bill. “If there is a stable majority you can get a Bill through in a few days, the less stable its majority the longer it takes.”
He goes on to say that there is a serious threat to the “institutions” of the United Kingdom and that if Johnson and his government don’t respect the law, or continue to attack the judiciary, then it will compromise the civil service, the police and the army as they will have to choose which to obey the rule of law or the government.
“This is a threat of the most serious kind, the current PM is playing with something he plainly doesn’t understand. If the government doesn’t obey the law why should anybody else? If it threatens not to abide by legal standards and rules, then in the sovereign bond market it will have to pay a premium – the premium that is paid in a banana republic – because government’s not committed to the rule of law are obviously a greater threat risk of default.”
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David Howarth, Professor of Law and Public Policy at University of Cambridge and a former Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, tells us why there are good reasons to suggest that the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson should have already stepped down regardless of whether or not he is found to have “misled” the Queen by the Supreme Court.