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UK government ensnared in court battles over suspending parliament

An anti-Brexit protester holds a placard as he demonstrates in Westminster in London, Britain August 29, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON, Aug 30 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament for over a month before Brexit is being challenged by three court cases that will be heard over the next month.

Johnson announced this week he will suspend Britain’s parliament for more than a month ahead of an Oct. 31 Brexit deadline, enraging opponents and raising the stakes in the country’s most serious political crisis in decades.

SCOTTISH COURT
A group of about 70 lawmakers from opposition parties have backed a bid to have Scotland’s highest civil court rule that Johnson cannot suspend, parliament before Britain leaves the European Union on Oct. 31.

They launched their challenge before Queen Elizabeth agreed this week to the government’s request for a suspension.

The case was originally due to be heard next week, but an emergency hearing – seeking the suspension of the order – was granted after the government ordered parliament to be suspended.

The court on Friday rejected an request to place an interim block on Johnson’s order to suspend parliament but indicated it will hear full arguments next week.

NORTHERN IRISH COURT
A legal bid to force Johnson to reverse his plans to suspend Parliament was also launched in Belfast on Thursday.

The case has been taken by Raymond McCord, a rights activist who also launched a 2016 challenge to block Britain’s exit from the European Union. He said he fears a no deal Brexit could wreck the Northern Ireland peace process.

The action is part of a wider legal action already launched by McCord against any withdrawal from the EU without a deal.

His legal team have argued in court that a no deal Brexit would breach the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and that the use of prorogation was unconstitutional and a threat to the Northern Ireland peace process.

GINA MILLER
Gina Miller, the campaigner who mounted a successful legal challenge in 2016 to Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempts to use prerogative powers to invoke article 50, is seeking a judicial review.

Former British Prime Minister John Major has asked to join the legal case.

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