WEEKLY ROUNDUP: BORIS FACES SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENT, TRUMP IMPEACHMENT, AND MORE.
by isised | September 29, 2019
Supreme Court Judgment
This Tuesday the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Prime Minister Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was unlawful. The Court was faced the issues of whether the decision to prorogue was “justiciable” (i.e. whether it could be looked at by the court, some political issues of “high policy” are inappropriate for the court to adjudicate upon) and if so whether the Prime Minister’s decision to prorogue was lawful.
The justices found that the matter of prorogation was justiciable, citing landmark cases such as the Case of Proclamations (a 1611 case where it was held “the King hath no prerogative, but that which the law of the land allows him”) to show that “the courts have exercised a supervisory jurisdiction over the decisions of the executive for centuries.”
It was held that two foundational principles of the UK constitution are Parliamentary sovereignty and Parliamentary accountability, both of which would be undermined if the government was able to prevent Parliament from exercising its legislative authority for as long as it pleased. The justices took account of the exceptional circumstances in which the decision to prorogue was made when deciding that it was unlawful: “This was not a normal prorogation in the run-up to a Queen’s Speech. It prevented Parliament from carrying out its constitutional role for five out of a possible eight weeks between the end of the summer recess and exit day on the 31st October…Even if [members of Parliament] had agreed to go into recess for the usual three-week period, they would still have been able to perform their function of holding the government to account. Prorogation means that they cannot do that.” The justices of the Supreme Court held: “It is impossible for us to conclude, on the evidence which has been put before us, that there was any reason – let alone a good reason – to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament for five weeks.”
After the judgment Parliament resumed its session on Wednesday, where the Prime Minister stated that he was going to respect the Supreme Court decision, although he disagreed with it. The Prime Minister came under criticism for the unlawful decision to prorogue and for his rhetoric, which some claim may incite violence against MPs.–Emilka
Labour Against Private Schools is a grassroots campaign that wishes to strip public schools from their elite status by integrating them into the state sector, distributing their wealth and the opportunities that come with it equally among all UK schools. This is a stance that some hope Labour will adopt, as the party has already began moving into this terrain when it looked into ridding public schools of their ‘charity’ status and the consequent tax exemption they enjoy, and using this tax-revenue to provide free school meals for primary school pupils.
The inequality of opportunity that arises due to the privilege that public schools enjoy over state schools is arguably very evident in our government – Jeremy Hunt, a member of the British Conservative Party and MP, attended Charterhouse, whilst Nigel Farage, the Brexit party leader, went to Dulwich College (the list goes on). Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is the UK’s 20th Eton-educated Prime Minister (Holly Rigby on BBC World at One 19/09/19).
In fact, the public eye in all fields is grotesquely dominated by people from privately-educated backgrounds – this The Guardian article best illustrates this. The disparity is enormous considering that only 7% of UK schools are public schools, but their domination of the most prominent positions is the logical outcome of public school students receiving 300% of the financial support their state school counterparts do (Holly Rigby on BBC World at One 19/09/19). Would it be fair for all UK students to receive an equal level of financial support by merging public and state schools? Or is it an unjustified attack on parental rights to deny the children of better-off families the best education money can buy? – Marissa
Yemen rebels allegedly capture Saudi troops
Houthi rebels claim to have captured thousands of Saudi troops at the border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
The rebel group have claimed responsibility for missiles and drones sent out to assault Saudi oil facilities, in part of the four-year conflict between the Houthis (who destabilised the Yemen government) and the Saudi-led coalition, which is backed by Western powers. The conflict in Yemen has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, and the United Nations has dubbed it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The UN said both the Houthis and the Saudi coalition may be guilty of war crimes. Missile strikes between the two are currently a regular occurrence.-Annabelle
Democrats Pursue Impeachment Enquiry into Donald Trump
President of the United States Donald Trump has been embroiled in scandal amid allegations he sought foreign help to investigate previously discredited corruption charges against Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The whistlebower’s complaint details how Mr Trump prompted Volodymur Zelensky, current president of Ukraine, to look further into the alleged connection between Joe Biden and the dismissal of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Viktor Shokin, who was looking into Hunter Biden’s energy company Burisma on charges of corruption. It accuses Mr Trump of withholding aid to Ukraine to ensure compliance and therefore “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the US 2020 election”, adding the attempts by White House officials to “lock down” the transcript of the call “underscored to [him] that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call”.
Is there any truth to Mr Trump’s allegations? This video seems to suggest so. However, no evidence has emerged suggesting Mr Shokin was fired because of the Bidens’ conflict of interest. Rather, Biden along with others called for his dismissal due to claims he was, ironically, not tough enough in dealing with corruption cases.
This has sparked a frenzy in the House of Representatives, with Democrats pursuing an Impeachment Inquiry, the “fact-finding” stage of the impeachment process. This involves steps like setting up key witnesses, questioning officials such as National Intelligence Director Joseph Maguire and sending an array of subpoena to the likes of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Impeachment is not, however, the forcible removal from office – instead it opens up an official trial led by the Senate. It’s an incredibly rare process – and has never actually resulted in a removal from office.
Few answers have surfaced, but what is clear is that there remains a long, drawn out process – with political commentators pointing out that even upon being successfully impeached, Mr Trump remains protected by the fact that Republicans control the Senate. However, what has surfaced is further accusations by the US media of the White House barring access to the transcripts of phone calls between Mr Trump and other foreign leaders. Is the “tide” truly turning? Is the “lamestream media” caught up in fake news? –Isabella
Art by: Ng Wei Kai. Words by: Emilka Cielslak, Lily Marissa Gonzalez, Annabelle Fuller, and Isabella Crispino.