Attorney General told Boris Johnson suspending Parliament was ‘lawful’

The Attorney General reportedly told the Prime Minister it was lawful to suspend Parliament – advice that 11 of the UK's top judges have since savaged in a landmark ruling.

According to Sky News, Geoffrey Cox told Cabinet that Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen on prorogation was "lawful and within the constitution".

The QC is also said to have told the Conservative Party leader that any criticism of such a move would be politically motivated.

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Prorogation of Parliament ruled unlawful by Supreme Court
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Prorogation of Parliament ruled unlawful by Supreme Court
Gina Miller leaves Millbank in Westminster, after judges at the Supreme Court ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
Gina Miller leaves Millbank in Westminster, after judges at the Supreme Court ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
Alan Duncan MP, former Foreign Office speaking to media after a ruling that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful in London,UK on September 24, 2019. The Supreme Court ruled that Prime Minster Boris Johnson acted unlawfully when he requested that the Queen prorogue parliament for more than a month, and that parliamentarians should reconvene "as soon as possible." (Photo by Claire Doherty/Sipa USA)
Joanna Cherry, SNP MP and QC, who led the cross-party legal action in Scotland against the Prime Minister speaks to media after a ruling that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful in London,UK on September 24, 2019. The Supreme Court ruled that Prime Minster Boris Johnson acted unlawfully when he requested that the Queen prorogue parliament for more than a month, and that parliamentarians should reconvene "as soon as possible." (Photo by Claire Doherty/Sipa USA)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivers her statement, in response to the Supreme Court ruling, at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) meets US President Donald Trump at the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday September 24, 2019. Mr Johnson will return to the UK Wednesday following the decision at the Supreme Court ruled that his advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. See PA story POLITICS UN. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing US business leaders at Hudson Yards in New York after judges at the Supreme Court in London ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
Former Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd leaves Millbank in Westminster, after judges at the Supreme Court ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson in New York after judges at the Supreme Court in London ruled that his advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
Businesswoman and campaigner Gina Miller, (C) who launched legal proceedings against Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government over the suspension of parliament leaving the Supreme Court after a ruling that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful in London,UK on September 24, 2019. The Supreme Court ruled that Prime Minster Boris Johnson acted unlawfully when he requested that the Queen prorogue parliament for more than a month, and that parliamentarians should reconvene "as soon as possible." (Photo by Claire Doherty/Sipa USA)
Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O'Neill (centre) with party colleagues Caral Ni Chuilin (left) and Chris Hazzard (right) outside the party's headquarters in Belfast, as they react to the Supreme Court ruling that suspending Parliament was unlawful.
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow on College Green in Westminster, announcing that the House of Commons will resume business from Wednesday, after judges at the Supreme Court ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
A protester holds a giant P45 with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's name on it outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, after judges at the Supreme Court ruled that his advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow on College Green in Westminster, announcing that the House of Commons will resume business from Wednesday, after judges at the Supreme Court ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
Labour delegates react as the Supreme Court rules Boris Johnson acted unlawfully when he asked the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks, on the fourth day of the Labour Party annual conference at the Brighton Centre in Brighton. Picture dated: Tuesday September 24, 2019. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment.
Jeremy Corbyn reacts as the Supreme Court rules Boris Johnson acted unlawfully when he asked the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks, on the fourth day of the Labour Party annual conference at the Brighton Centre in Brighton. Picture dated: Tuesday September 24, 2019. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment.
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow on College Green in Westminster, announcing that the House of Commons will resume business from Wednesday, after judges at the Supreme Court ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
Labour delegates react as the Supreme Court rules Boris Johnson acted unlawfully when he asked the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks, on the fourth day of the Labour Party annual conference at the Brighton Centre in Brighton. Picture dated: Tuesday September 24, 2019. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment.
(left to right) John McDonnell and Rebecca Long-Bailey react during Jeremy Corbyn's speech to the news of the Supreme Court ruling Boris Johnson acted unlawfully when he asked the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks, on the fourth day of the Labour Party annual conference at the Brighton Centre in Brighton. Picture dated: Tuesday September 24, 2019. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment.
A man wearing a giant Boris Johnson mask, dressed as a prisoner, outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP leaving the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
(Left to right) Leader of The Independent Group for Change Anna Soubry, Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader Liz Saville-Roberts, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP, and Green MP Caroline Lucas, outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
Gina Miller speaks to the media outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
(Left to right) Leader of The Independent Group for Change Anna Soubry, Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader Liz Saville-Roberts, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP, and Green MP Caroline Lucas, outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
Anna Soubry reacts outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
SNP MP Joanna Cherry and lawyer Jolyon Maugham speaking to the media outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
A man reacts as he leaves the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
Protesters celebrating outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges have ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
Protesters outside the Supreme Court in London, where judges are ruling on the legality of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks.
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Following a meeting with Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg and Number 10 aide Nikki da Costa at Balmoral last month, the Monarch prorogued Parliament for five weeks, with the Commons doors shut for business until October 14.

Yet all 11 Supreme Court judges ruled on Tuesday that the instructions were "unlawful" and confirmed the suspension no longer stood.

Mr Cox, according to an unredacted version of court papers released to lawyers challenging Parliament's suspension, is said to have assured Cabinet that the decision to prorogue would not be overturned.

"The attorney general said that his advice on the question of the law is that this was lawful and within the constitution," the papers revealed.

"Any accusations of unlawfulness or constitutional outrage were motivated by political considerations."

But judges unanimously ruled that the advice given to the Monarch was "unlawful, void and of no effect".

The Supreme Court's decision on Tuesday directly contradicts Mr Cox's legal opinion, a situation that could put pressure on the senior Tory following the leaking of his advice.

Lady Brenda Hale, announcing the judgment, said: "The court is bound to conclude that the decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional functions."

Keir Starmer, Labour's shadow Brexit secretary, is planning to enact a seldom used Commons procedure to force the Government to release its legal advice on prorogation.

Former Conservative MP Amber Rudd, who quit as work and pensions secretary earlier this month over the PM's Brexit handling, said Cabinet ministers requested to see such papers but they were not handed over.

"Despite personal assurances from the PM, the Cabinet was not shown the legal advice around this prorogation," she tweeted.

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith is also understood to have pushed to see detailed legal assessments.

Mr Johnson, who is due to fly back early to the UK from the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, told reporters he did not think the judges had come to the "right decision".

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