Supreme Court: Where does defeat leave Boris Johnson?

Laura Kuenssberg
Political editor
@bbclaurakon Twitter

Media caption,
The Supreme Court declared "Parliament has not been prorogued"

Before everything gets swept up in a force 10 political storm, stop for a moment to think about what has just happened.

The highest court in the land has just ruled that the serving prime minister broke the law. He gave the Queen advice that was unlawful.

Therefore his decision to suspend Parliament was also against the law, so is now null and void.

Short of the inscrutable Lady Hale, with the giant diamond spider on her lapel, declaring Boris Johnson to be Pinocchio, this judgement is just about as bad for the government as it gets.

Mr Johnson is, as is abundantly clear, prepared to run a general election campaign that pits Parliament against the people. And so what, according to that view of the world, if that includes the judges as part of the establishment standing in his way?

But there is a difference between being ruthless and reckless. And the scope and strength of this judgement cannot just be dismissed as some pesky judges sticking their noses in.

Just a few weeks ago, the advice of government lawyers was said to be that it was unlikely the judges would want to step into such explosive territory. They were wrong. For the very many people in the Conservative Party who have doubts about Boris Johnson but wanted to give him the chance, this is a nightmare.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The Speaker has said MPs will resume sitting on Wednesday

But back to that political storm which is, no surprise, already raging. To shouts of "Johnson out! Johnson out!" on the Labour conference floor, Jeremy Corbyn said the prime minister should consider his position - in other words, he should quit.

The SNP and Liberal Democrats are calling on him to go now too.

The prime minister is in New York at the United Nations, and his team is yet to respond. But the idea that he would walk is far-fetched (for now). What seems certain, though, is that MPs will be sitting again in Parliament on Wednesday.

The Commons Speaker has already said they should convene urgently. Some MPs have, out of principle, already gone back to sit on the green benches. It is a different question, of course, to ask, for what purpose, what will they discuss.

There isn't suddenly going to be a majority in Parliament for a way out of this mess. And Boris Johnson will inevitably try to use this to his political advantage.

Do not underestimate how aggressive Number 10 might be willing to be in response to the judgement. It is possible they will fly straight back from New York to face the music - armed with what strategy is harder to read.

But the decision to suspend Parliament may just have blown up in Number 10's face.

In his two months in power, Boris Johnson has lost his first six Commons votes, broken the law by suspending Parliament, and misled the monarch.

Even for a politician who seems to enjoy breaking the rules, that is a serious charge that, only two months into office, even the most brazen Johnson backer cannot simply shrug off.