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Gina Miller is ready to take the U.K. government to court again if Boris Johnson tries to suspend Parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit.
The anti-Brexit campaigner said on Sunday that she would begin immediate legal action if such a step is attempted, citing concern about upholding Britain’s constitution.
Miller, who already used the courts to force the government to get parliamentary approval before beginning Brexit talks, said she’s assembling the same team to counter Johnson if he becomes the leader and attempts to shut down Parliament.
“It would be an abuse of his powers to close Parliament” and “limit the voice of the representatives that we all elect,” Miller said, speaking on the “Ridge on Sunday” show on Sky. Her team would be “actively defending parliamentary sovereignty, because it is the cornerstone of our constitution,” she said.
Johnson, the favorite to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May in Conservative Party voting this month, has pledged to take Britain out of the European Union with or without a deal on Oct. 31. He’s refused to rule out proroguing — or suspending — Parliament to fulfill that pledge.
In the House of Lords this week, lawmakers will seek to amend a bill on Northern Ireland to make such a course of action harder, with a proposal that would require ministers to appear in Parliament on specified dates.
“The importance of that is that if you’ve got a law which says ministers have got to do things in Parliament on certain dates, then it’s at least arguable that ministers can’t prorogue Parliament thereby preventing themselves from obeying that law,” Oliver Letwin, a Conservative Member of Parliament who supported similar measures when the bill was debated in the House of Commons, told BBC Radio on Monday.
Johnson’s rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, has ruled out taking such a step. Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, who backs Hunt, said on Sunday that suspending Parliament would be “the wrong thing to do, and I would always argue against it.”
Rudd also elaborated more on her recent change of opinion on a no-deal Brexit, which some say shows she’s vying for a position in any Johnson-led cabinet.
“I’m no longer saying that I will lie down in front of the bulldozers if it arrives,” Rudd said, speaking on the “Andrew Marr Show” on the BBC. “No-deal is not easy, it’ll be something that will challenge us, but if we have to do it we have to have it there as a backstop, to use a coin of phrase, at the end of October.”
Former Prime Minister John Major has already said he would be ready to take the government to court if the incoming leader tried to suspend Parliament to force through a no-deal exit, a position Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has also backed.
Letwin said the amendment proposed in the House of Lords “would make such a challenge more likely to succeed.”
Johnson, who has previously called Major’s intervention “very odd,” could still find some support among Conservative Party lawmakers.
“This should not be about the semantics of Parliament or proroguing Parliament, we now have to get behind a new government that is very clear in a future determination now, which is to get out of the European Union come what may,” former Cabinet minister Priti Patel said on Sky.
The power to suspend Parliament lies with the monarch at the request of the prime minister, which could leave Queen Elizabeth II in a tricky situation. One of the long-standing goals of both Buckingham Palace officials and government civil servants has been to keep the monarch out of any political controversy.
(Updates with comment from MP Letwin from sixth paragraph.)
–With assistance from Alex Morales.
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