On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was unlawful, and “the effect on the fundamentals of democracy was extreme”. The ruling stated that, not only was it unlawful, it had “no effect”, meaning prorogation had in fact never happened, and MPs could return to the House of Commons and carry on the session. Mr Johnson said he “profoundly disagreed” with the ruling but would “respect” it.
Mr Johnson said his attempts to get a fresh Brexit deal was “not made much easier with these sort of things in Parliament or the courts.”
However, he has insisted the UK would still leave the EU on October 31 as planned, and Tuesday’s ruling would not deter him from that goal.
But with his open doors slamming shut around him, what could happen next?
Brexit news: Johnson has been dealt blow after blow since taking over as Prime Minister
1. VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE
This wouldn’t be at the hands of Mr Johnson, but he might be hoping for it nonetheless.
A motion of confidence in the Government can be called by the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn – if it fails, that would hugely strengthen Mr Johnson’s hand.
Professor Alex de Ruyter, director of the Centre for Brexit Studies, told Express.co.uk: “I would suggest that given [Mr Johnson’s] – in the eyes of a majority of MPs – manifestly ‘untrustworthy’ behaviour, that the odds of a no-confidence motion being submitted by the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, have increased substantially.”
However, it remains largely uncertain how a motion would play out, with evidence from some Tories of remaining support for the Prime Minister.
Brexit news: A motion of confidence in the Government can be called by the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn
2. BORIS RESIGNS
The calls for Mr Johnson to resign have been deafening since the Supreme Court ruling.
However, Professor de Ruyter said: “Despite growing calls for him to reconsider his position as PM he cannot simply be forced to resign – in reinforcing the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty the Court has made it possible for Parliament to reconvene earlier.
“However, Johnson would still be PM, and he could only be removed from office via a successful motion of no confidence in his Government.”
Brexit news: The PM asked the Queen for her permission to prorogue Parliament
3. GENERAL ELECTION
MPs twice voted against Mr Johnson’s calls for a general election before Brexit to try steer the PM away from the cliff-edge of a no deal Brexit.
Mr Johnson could, however, try to resign as a means of calling out Mr Corbyn if he decides not to table a no-confidence motion and prompting a general election.
Professor de Ruyter said: “Johnson could, of course, offer his resignation to the Queen and approach her to ask Jeremy Corbyn to try and form a Government – ostensibly in the hope that he could not secure the parliamentary numbers to do so, and thereby bring about the early election that he seeks.”
However, the risk remains that Mr Corbyn does have support in the House, from some prominent ex-Tories such as Ken Clarke, who would see him form a caretaker government.
Brexit news: Lady Hale, delivering the verdict
4. BRING BACK MAY’S DEAL
Certainly not the most desirable option, but Mr Johnson could try to get Theresa May’s oft-rejected Brexit deal accepted by Brexit-weary MPs in a vote in Commons.
Professor de Ruyter said: “I think that the effect of the Supreme Court ruling will increase the pressure on Johnson to bring a variant of Mrs May’s failed withdrawal agreement back to the Parliamentary table, in the hope that he could win over disaffected Tories to his cause.”
There is some indication that this could work.
On Tuesday, Amber Rudd, who resigned her post – and the party whip – over the Government’s approach to Brexit, tweeted: “I regret that the PM, who entered office with such goodwill, went down this route. I urge him to work with Parliament to pass a Deal.”
This suggests she might be willing to support the PM if he seeks the route of a revised deal.
Mr Johnson has insisted a fresh Brexit deal is still achievable, but with time wearing thin, it’s still unclear what will be delivered.
Brexit news: The Supreme Court ruled Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was unlawful
5. ACCEPT A NORTHERN IRELAND ONLY BACKSTOP
Originally, the EU offered a Northern Ireland-only backstop, which would essentially see a trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Theresa May negotiated the backstop in her withdrawal agreement, which would keep the whole UK tied into a form of customs union if no volition to the Irish border is found – keeping Northern Ireland on an even footing with the rest of the UK.
Professor de Ruyter said: “Looking at it in the cold light of day, he has only two choices to affect a Withdrawal Agreement from the EU – stick with Mrs May’s agreement with its entire UK ‘backstop’ – or revert to the EU’s original offer of a Northern Ireland-only backstop.”
While there has been little appetite across the House for either Mrs May’s backstop or the Northern Ireland-only one, the stakes have changed now, with the reality of no deal alarming many MPs.
Professor de Ruyter said: “I am of the view that they could vote with the Government this time, to get Brexit over the line.”
Brexit news: r Johnson could try to get Theresa May’s oft-rejected Brexit deal accepted
6. ASK FOR ANOTHER BREXIT DELAY
While Mr Johnson has said he’d “rather be dead in a ditch” than ask the EU for another Brexit delay, he really might not have any choice.
Just before the (now null and void) prorogation began, a law was passed which states that if a Brexit deal is not signed by October 19, the Prime Minister must request another extension of Article 50 from the EU.
Given the severity of Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling, it’s unlikely Mr Johnson would be seen flouting another law.