If the Supreme Court rules against Johnson, Parliament should impeach him

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Fifteen years have passed since I spearheaded the campaign to impeach former Prime Minister Tony Blair over the UK’s role in the invasion of Iraq.

That campaign was underpinned by the belief that Blair had “treated Parliament and the public with contempt.” Not my words, but those of the current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, written back then in a column for The Telegraph.

In a few days, we may see that history may not repeat itself, but it does indeed rhyme.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will decide whether Johnson himself is guilty of the same charge of misleading Parliament, this time over its prorogation.

This seminal case could indeed seal the fate of the Prime Minister’s premiership.

The prorogation of Parliament – against its widely-held will – is plainly not, as the Prime Minister would have us all believe, a run-of-the-mill pause in parliamentary proceedings.

As the Scottish judges concluded earlier this week, the Prime Minister’s actions signalled a deliberate attempt to “stymie” parliament, preventing the elected legislature from doing its duty in holding him and his government to account.

Number 10’s questioning of the judges’ impartiality – albeit hastily retracted – was a display of gross arrogance and disrespect.

But all eyes are now on the Supreme Court as it decides whether the Prime Minister has lied to Parliament, the head of state, and the people.

It is frankly unimaginable that any Prime Minister could remain in post when the highest court in the land has found him guilty of such improper conduct.
 
My party, Plaid Cymru, has already said that if Boris Johnson were to refuse to comply with the law by not requesting an extension to Article 50, he ought to be impeached.

The case for impeachment can only be stronger if the Supreme Court rules that his attempt to shut down Parliament was unlawful.

The impeachment of any minister isn’t something that should be considered lightly, which explains why it hasn’t been done in such a long time.

But the extraordinary behaviour of this Prime Minister requires us to consider all options before us, because what is at stake here is the very idea of parliamentary democracy itself.

Like Tony Blair before him, Boris Johnson has spun a web of distortion and doublespeak in which he now finds himself caught.  Hubris may win you power but not the wisdom to wield it well.
 
If found guilty of this most serious of charges, the Prime Minister should muster the decency to call time on his chaotic premiership. And if he refuses to go of his own accord, then the right thing for any MP who respects the principles of law and proper governance to do is to impeach him.

He will not, of course, be able to argue that they haven’t the power to do that because he himself was a supporter of my attempt to impeach Blair.

While the context is different, the conduct is strikingly similar.

In attempting to avoid scrutiny by the democratic legislature, Johnson has sought to stage a coup under the veil of prorogation.

And to help his cause, he seemingly lied to the head of state, whom he knew had no choice but to act on his advice.

Nothing would be more damning than having the highest court in the land uphold the judgement cast in the court of public opinion.

Fifteen years on, one former Prime Minister’s reputation remains in tatters. This is Boris Johnson’s chance to salvage his own, or risk being haunted by the echoes of history.

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