- The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom unanimously voted Tuesday to rule Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament unlawful.
- Lawmakers will return to parliament on Wednesday to continue talks concerning Brexit ahead of the country’s current Oct. 31 deadline.
- Several major lawmakers in the U.K. have called upon Johnson to resign.
Parliament Suspension Ruled Unlawful
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of British Parliament unlawful on Tuesday, making it “void and of no effect.”
The ruling follows a similar decision made by Scotland’s Court of Session following Johnson’s announcement of the suspension, or prorogation. After losing in Scotland, Johnson’s government appealed to the U.K. Supreme Court.
“This was not a normal prorogation in the run-up to a Queen’s speech,” Lady Brenda Hale, president of the Supreme Court, said in its decision. “It prevented parliament from carrying out its constitutional role for five out of the possible eight weeks between the end of the summer recess and exit day on the 31st of October.”
“Parliament, and in particular the House of Commons as the elected representatives of the people, has a right to a voice in how that change comes about,” she continued.
The Supreme Court issued its ruling on the basis that Johnson made a political move to attempt to stop other lawmakers from debating Brexit. When Johnson first announced the suspension, those lawmakers condemned the action because it would mean they had less time to reach a deal. They then accused Johnson of attempting to secure a means to execute a no-deal Brexit, if necessary.
Johnson has repeatedly stated that he will take the country out of the European Union by its current Oct. 31 deadline with or without a deal, even after lawmakers passed legislation barring him from taking the U.K. out of the EU without a deal.
In addition to being hailed as unprecedented (U.K. courts generally do not rule on government decisions unlike in the United States), the verdict suggests Johnson misled the Queen when he asked her to suspend the government, per tradition.
Johnson Responds to Suspension
Johnson is currently in the United States at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York, but he will be leaving early Tuesday night to return to the U.K.
“I strongly disagree with this decision of the Supreme Court,” he said, “I have the utmost respect for our judiciary. I don’t think that this was the right decision.”
At the same time, Johnson said he would respect the court’s decision; however, he suggested potentially proroguing parliament again. If he were to seek another prorogation, it would likely only be for a few days to prepare for a Queen’s speech, which would outline the government’s proposed domestic policy.
Parliament Reconvenes Wednesday
Also following the decision, Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow said parliament will reconvene Wednesday, with members of parliament expected to hold emergency debates.
Johnson and opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn are also expected to spar at the dispatch box, with Corbyn asking Johnson to resign.
Also of note, the suspension would have essentially deleted any pending bills that weren’t passed before lawmakers left, but now, those bills are back on the table. Some of those include Brexit-related legislation concerning immigration, fisheries, and agriculture.
Calls for Johnson to Resign
Tuesday also brought forth a fresh wave of backlash directed at Johnson, with #BorisLiedToTheQueen trending on Twitter.
More notably, multiple lawmakers called on Johnson to resign, including Corbyn who said he was inviting Johnson to be the U.K.’s shortest-serving prime minister.
“It demonstrates a contempt for democracy and an abuse of power by him,” Corbyn said. “I will be in touch immediately to demand that parliament is recalled so that we can question the prime minister, demand that he obeys the law that’s been passed by parliament, and recognize that our parliament is elected by our people to hold our government to account.”
“I invite Boris Johnson, in the historic words, to consider his position and become the shortest prime minister there’s ever been,” he continued.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, also called Johnson unfit to serve as prime minister. On the other hand, Brexit Party Leader Nigel Farage said the suspension was the “worst political decision ever,” though he stopped short of calling for Johnson to resign. Instead, he said Johnson should fire his most senior aide who is suspected to have been behind the prorogation idea.
Ahead of Tuesday’s ruling, Johnson said he would not resign if he lost the case. It is possible if Johnson refuses to step down tomorrow, lawmakers will attempt a vote of no confidence against him.
See what others are saying: (The Independent) (The Guardian) (Wall Street Journal)
Russia Takes Over 900 Azovstal Fighters Prisoner as Mariupol Surrenders
Ukraine said the soldiers successfully completed their mission, but the fall of Mariupol represents a strategic win for Putin.
Azovstal Waves the White Flag
Russia’s foreign ministry announced on Wednesday that it had captured 959 Ukrainians from the Azovstal steelworks, where besieged soldiers have maintained the last pocket of resistance in Mariupol for weeks.
A ministry spokesperson said in a statement that 51 were being treated for injuries, and the rest were sent to a former prison colony in the town of Olenivka in a Russian-controlled area of Donetsk.
The defense ministry released videos of what it claimed were Ukrainian fighters receiving care at a hospital in the Russian-controlled town of Novoazovsk. In one, a soldier tells the camera he is being treated “normally” and that he is not being psychologically pressured, though it is unclear whether he is speaking freely.
It was unclear if any Ukrainians remained in Azovstal, but Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk, said in a statement Wednesday that the “commanders of the highest level” were still hiding in the plant.
Previously, estimates put the number of soldiers inside Azovstal around 1,000.
Ukraine officially gave up Mariupol on Monday, when the first Azovstal fighters began surrendering.
Reuters filmed dozens of wounded Ukrainians being driven away in buses marked with the Russian pro-war “Z” symbol.
Ukraine’s deputy defense minister said in a Tuesday statement that the Ukrainian prisoners would be swapped in an exchange for captured Russians. But numerous Russian officials have signaled that the Ukrainian soldiers should be tried.
Mariupol Falls into Russian Hands
After nearly three months of bombardment that left Mariupol in ruins, Russia’s combat mission in the city has ended.
The sprawling complex of underground tunnels, caverns, and bunkers beneath Azovstal provided a defensible position for the Ukrainians there, and they came to represent the country’s resolve in the face of Russian aggression for many spectators.
Earlier this month, women, children, and the elderly were evacuated from the plant.
The definitive capture of Mariupol, a strategic port city, is a loss for Ukraine and a boon for Russia, which can now establish a land bridge between Crimea and parts of Eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists. The development could also free up Russian troops around Mariupol to advance on the East, while additional reinforcements near Kharkiv descend from the north, potentially cutting off Ukrainian forces from the rest of the country.
The Ukrainian military has framed events in Mariupol as at least a partial success, arguing that the defenders of Azovstal completed their mission by tying down Russian troops and resources in the city and giving Ukrainians elsewhere more breathing room.
It claimed that doing so prevented Russia from rapidly capturing the city of Zaporizhzhia further to the west.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (BBC) (BBC)
Convoy of Up to 1,000 Vehicles Evacuates Refugees From Mariupol as Russian War Effort Stalls
Russia may have lost a third of its ground invasion force since the war began, according to British military intelligence.
Hundreds Make It Out Alive
A convoy of between 500 and 1,000 vehicles evacuating refugees from the southern port city of Mariupol arrived safely in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia on Saturday.
People have been trickling out of Mariupol for over two months, but the recent evacuation was the single biggest out of the city thus far. Russian troops, who control most of the city, did not allow the convoy to leave for days, but eventually, they relented.
The convoy first traveled to Berbyansky some 80 kilometers to the west, then stopped at other settlements before driving 200 kilometers northwest to Zaporizhzhia. Many refugees told reporters they took “secret detours” to avoid Russian checkpoints and feared every moment of the journey.
Nikolai Pavlov, a 74-year-old retiree, told Reuters he had lived in a basement for a month after his apartment was destroyed.
“We barely made it,” he said. “There were lots of elderly people among us… the trip was devastating. But it was worth it.”
63-year-old Iryna Petrenko also said she had stayed in Mariupol initially to take care of her 92-year-old mother, who subsequently died.
“We buried her next to her house, because there was nowhere to bury anyone,” she said.
Putin’s Plans Go Poorly
In Mariupol, Ukrainian fighters continue to hold the Azovstal steelworks, the only part of the city still under Ukrainian control.
On Sunday, a video emerged appearing to show a hail of projectiles bursting into white, brightly burning munitions over the factory.
The pro-Russian separatist who posted it on Telegram wrote, “If you didn’t know what it is and for what purpose – you could say that it’s even beautiful.”
Turkey is trying to negotiate an evacuation of wounded Ukrainians from the factory, but neither Russia nor Ukraine have agreed to any plan.
After nearly three months of war, Mariupol has been left in ruins, with thousands of civilians reportedly dead.
“In less than 3 month, Mariupol, one of Ukraine’s fastest developing & comfortable cities, was reduced into a heap of charred ruins smelling death, with thousands of people standing in long breadlines and selling their properties out to buy some food. Less than three months,” Illia Ponomarenko, a reporter for The Kyiv Independent, tweeted.
On Sunday, the United Kingdom’s defense ministry estimated that Russia has likely lost a third of its ground invasion forces since the war began.
Moscow is believed to have deployed as many as 150,000 troops in Ukraine.
The ministry added that Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine have “lost momentum” and are “significantly behind schedule.” Moreover, it said Russia failed to achieve substantial territorial gains over the last month while sustaining “consistently high levels of attrition.”
“Under the current conditions, Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days,” the ministry concluded.
Sweden also signaled on Sunday that it will join Finland in applying for NATO membership.
See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (U.S. News and World Report) (The Hill)
Israel Moves to Build Over 4,000 West Bank Settlements as Palestinian Homes Demolished
The Israeli military is proceeding with a plan to evict at least 1,000 Palestinians from the West Bank.
Settlers Get Ready to Move in
On Thursday, a military planning body in the Israeli-occupied West Bank approved the construction of 4,427 housing units, according to the watchdog group Peace Now.
“The State of Israel took another stumble toward the abyss and further deepened the occupation,” Hagit Ofran, an expert at Peace Now, said via the Associated Press.
The plan is the largest advancement of settlement projects since President Joe Biden took office in the United States.
The U.S. opposes settlement expansion and said as much when the plan was first announced last week, but critics say Washington has done little to pressure Israel to stop.
In a statement, U.N. Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland called the settlements a “major obstacle to peace.”
“Continued settlement expansion further entrenches the occupation, encroaches upon Palestinian land and natural resources, and hampers the free movement of the Palestinian population,” he said.
In October, Israel approved some 3,000 settlement homes despite a U.S. rebuke. There are currently over 130 Israeli settlements in the West Bank harboring almost 500,000 settlers, in addition to the nearly three million Palestinians living in the territory.
Palestinians Pushed Off Their Land
On Wednesday, the same day Israeli soldiers allegedly shot and killed Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the military demolished at least 18 buildings in the West Bank, including 12 residential ones.
Israel’s supreme court has also ruled that eight Palestinian hamlets can be expelled, potentially leaving at least 1,000 Palestinians homeless.
The area targeted is known as the Masafer Yatta, and its residents say they have been herding animals and practicing traditional desert agriculture there for decades, long before Israel took over the West Bank in 1967. Israel, however, claims there were no permanent structures there before the military designated it a firing zone in the 1980s
“What’s happening now is ethnic cleansing,” Sami Huraini, an activist and a resident of the area, told the Associated Press. “The people are staying on their land and have already started to rebuild.”