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17 September 2019

Five things you need to know today: Supreme Court to examine lawfulness of prorogation

Plus, Israel goes to the polls and Lib Dems go home.

By New Statesman

Boris Johnson has declined to say that he will abide by the judgement of the Supreme Court in this week’s landmark court case regarding the prorogation of parliament – but has declined, too, to threaten that he won’t.

The English and Scottish Courts are divided over the suspension of parliament, with Edinburgh’s Court of Session saying that the shutdown was unlawful while London’s High Court said it was not a court matter. The Supreme Court will settle the question in a case expected to last until Thursday.

In an interview with the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, the Prime Minister claimed to have the “greatest respect for the judiciary”. But asked whether he would abide by the court’s ruling, he said, “I think the best thing I can say, having said that, is to wait and see what they say.” Pushed for clarification he repeated the line almost word for word. We shall see.

Swinson to rally Lib Dem faithful

Jo Swinson is to close this week’s Liberal Democrat Conference today by telling the party that it can stop Brexit. 

In her speech, scheduled for 2.10pm, the party leader is expected to warn that: “The truth is you can’t plan for no deal. Planning for no deal is like planning to burn your house down: you might have insurance, but you’re still going to lose all your stuff.” Swinson will also compare Boris Johnson’s actions – “silencing critics, purging opponents, ignoring the law” – to that of a dictator.

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Last night saw the highlight of the annual Lib Dem conference: Glee Club, in which party members sing a series of popular songs with lyrics rewritten to concern British politics. Both Luciana Berger and Sarah Wollaston were spotted at the glittering night, joining the party faithful in performing a rude song about their own defections. Why not.

Cameron speaks at last

David Cameron has said that the biggest error of his government’s austerity programme is that it didn’t happen quicker. 

In an interview with ITV, to promote his new memoir, For the Record, the former prime minister has said that the coalition government had a “window of permission” after the 2010 election. “There is a case for saying that some of the changes we had to make in year two, in year three, in year four – it might have been better if we did a little bit more a bit earlier.”

He defended the “difficult decisions” taken by his government – but did accept that he was “not sure we got all of them right”. Consoling.

Israel goes to the polls, again

For the second time in five months, Israelis are voting in a general election, after the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to negotiate a majority coalition in the Knesset.

The last vote, in April, gave Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and its main challenger, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White, 35 seats apiece in the 120 seat chamber. Going into today’s vote, the two are once again neck and neck in the polls. 

Coalition negotiations will begin once again at 10pm local time (8pm BST) when the exit poll is published.

And finally…

A woman has become the first person to swim the English Channel four times non-stop. Sarah Thomas, a 37-year-old American who recently completed treatment for breast cancer, dedicated her 54-hour swim to “all the survivors out there”. 

Your author feels tired just thinking about it.

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