Memos released in court reveal Boris Johnson planned prorogation weeks in advance

The Prime Minister wrote: "I don't see anything specially shocking about this prorogation."
The Prime Minister wrote: "I don't see anything specially shocking about this prorogation."
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These are the documents which a group of remainer MPs claim show that Boris Johnson was planning prorogation two weeks before the Prime Minister went to the Queen.

Aidan O’Neill QC told judge Lord Doherty earlier this week that Mr Johnson and his advisors were planning to suspend Parliament on August 14 2019.

The documents were released in the Court of Session.

The documents were released in the Court of Session.

The Court of Session heard Mr O’Neill claim that lawyers acting for the government had claimed that it wasn’t planning the move.

But Mr O’Neill said the claim made by the government was incorrect and that these documents showed the truth of the situation.

Members of the press weren’t originally allowed to see the documents.

But following a challenge made on Thursday at the Court of Session by the BBC, the Sun and The Times newspapers, Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord Carloway and his colleagues Lord Brodie and Lord Drummond Young.gave permission for the memos to be made public.

The documents show the government's prorogation plans.

The documents show the government's prorogation plans.

The move came at the end of the first day of an appeal brought to the court by the remainer MPs. They believe that Lord Doherty had misinterpreted the law in deciding that the proposed prorogation scheme was lawful.

In one memo marked ‘official - sensitive No10 only’, we can see under a section called Prime Minister’s comments, Mr Johnson writing: “1)The Whole September session is a rigmarole introduced REDACTION to show to public that MPs are their crust’.

“2. So I don’t see anything specially shocking about this proposition’.

3. As Nikki (Nikki Da Costa) notes, it is OVER THE CONFERENCE SEASON’ so that the sitting days lost are actually very few.”

Opponents say the memos prove the Prime Minister had decided to prorogue parliament weeks earlier than he first said.

Opponents say the memos prove the Prime Minister had decided to prorogue parliament weeks earlier than he first said.

The memo was sent on August 16 2019.

Another memo marked Official Sensitive No 10 only, Nikki Da Costa writes a memo on August 23 2019 to the Prime Minister and ccs in Mark Sedwell, Peter Hill, Stuart Glassborow, Ed Lister and Dominic Cummings.

Ms Da Costa states that the Prime Minister agreed that his private parliamentary secretary should approach the palace with a request for prorogation to begin with the period Monday September 9 to Thursday September 12 and for a Queen’s speech on Monday October 14 2019.

Under a section marked background, Ms Da Costa writes about how the Prime Minister will phone the Queen on August 27 2019 to request Parliament being prorogued.

The memo states that the following day, the Chief Whip and the Leaders of the Commons and Lords will go to Balmoral to get the Queen’s permission.

Another memo released is a draft cabinet note. It states that the Prime Minister has 30 minutes to inform the cabinet that he has spoken to the Queen and “will bring forward a refreshed and ambitious legislative programme with a Queen’s speech on Monday October 14.”

Under a section marked introductory notes, there is a phrase which reads: “In Parliament, there’s been too much drift or too long and a decision on when to end the session postponed numerous times.

“Bills have been introduced to keep Parliament ticking over all but too often MPs and Peers are left with little to do. We’ve been going for more than 340 sitting days - that hasn’t happened since the Civil War.

“This cannot continue. I therefore intend to bring forward a new legislative agenda that will take us through our exit from the EU and the months that follow.”

Another memo contains the phrase ‘Dear Colleague’ which details the contents of a letter which should be sent to MPs about their plans to prorogue Parliament.

Another memo released on Thursday is a minute of a meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday August 28 2019.

The ministers who attended the meeting include the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Home Secretary. It is marked OFFICIAL SENSITIVE.

The actual minute contains several redactions.

One section reads: “In discussion the following points were made: “Any messaging should emphasise that the plan for a Queen’s speech was not intended to reduce parliamentary scrutiny or minimise Parliament’s opportunity to make clear its views on Brexit.

“Parliament had already had significant opportunity to debate Brexit and would still have remaining parliamentary time to do so before October 31.

“Likewise it was crucial that parlimentary colleagues understood that the government was still seeking a deal and this lan would allow time for the withdrawal agreement to be approved by Parliament if a deal was agreed at the European Council on October 17/18. Therefore any suggestion that Government was using this as a tactic to frustrate Parliament should be rebutted.

“The terrain between now and October would be rocky. Although there had been longer periods of prorogation in the past, they were exceptional.

“Parliament would not normally be prorogued for a longer period than one to two weeks. It should be explained why in this case the period was significantly longer.

“The government wold be attacked for this decision but it would be manageable.”

It also states: “Continuing, the Prime Minister said that it was vital to persuade and enthuse Parliamentary colleagues to get behind the government’s plan. The EU were likely to hold out for Parliament to block Brexit while they thought that was possible.

“The UK would only be able to negotiate a better deal by showing the EU a united front, including in Parliament.

“Two messages had landed with the EU; that the UK wanted a deal and was prepared to work hard to get one but also that the government was prepared to leave without one if necessary.

“There had been absolute clarity with the EU about the aspects of the current withdrawal agreement that were unacceptable. The backstop was fundamentally undemocratic.

“It bound the UK into EU laws over which it had no say and tilted the balance of the Good Friday Agreement away from the UK by giving Dublin a greater say over matters in Northern Ireland.

“Concluding the Prime Minister said that progress with the EU should not be exaggerated but it was substantial. Whilst there was a good chance that a deal could be secured there was also a high chance that it could not.

“”Success would require a united and determined approach. Everyone joining the government had done so on the understanding that the UK might have to leave the EU without a deal.

“There were no plans for an early general election. This would not be right for the British people; they had faced an awful lot of electoral events in recent years. They wanted the government to deliver Brexit and a strong domestic agenda.

“The cabinet took note.”

The hearing at the Court of Session continues on Friday.