Boris Johnson picks Attorney General who vowed to ‘take control’ from judges

Boris Johnson has appointed a new Attorney General who attacked "judicial activism" and said judges were "trespassing" on politics amid a crackdown on the legal system.

Hardliner Suella Braverman, a Brexit Minister, was promoted to the Cabinet table job after Geoffrey Cox was sacked in the Cabinet reshuffle.

Only weeks ago she demanded the government "take back control from the judiciary".

The former Attorney in New York State will now play a crucial role as the PM sets up a "commission" to examine the relationship between the courts and the government.

Mr Cox's previous legal advice was a thorn in the Prime Minister's side as he attempted to push through his version of Brexit. But Ms Braverman appears to share Downing Street's determination to take on "activist" legal actions such as judicial reviews against government policy.

She wrote last month: "The political has been captured by the legal. Decisions of an executive, legislative and democratic nature have been assumed by our courts.

"Prorogation and the triggering of Article 50 were merely the latest examples of a chronic and steady encroachment by the judges.


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"For in reality, repatriated powers from the EU will mean precious little if our courts continue to act as political decision-maker, pronouncing on what the law ought to be and supplanting Parliament.

"To empower our people we need to stop this disenfranchisement of Parliament."

She added: "Today, our courts exercise a form of political power. Questions that fell hitherto exclusively within the prerogative of elected Ministers have yielded to judicial activism.

"Foreign policy, conduct of our armed forces abroad, application of international treaties and, of course, the decision to prorogue Parliament. Judicial review has exploded since the 1960s so that even the most intricate relations between the state and individual can be questioned by judges."

She went on: "I am not lambasting the judiciary and nor is this a diatribe against human rights. What I am arguing is that the delicate relationship between law and politics is off-balance.

"I don’t challenge the quality of our judges, but I do question their trespass into inherently political terrain for which a legal answer is wholly insufficient."


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Earlier this week Mr Cox, who pleaded to keep his job, suggested Supreme Court judges could have to face interviews by MPs before they take their job as part of the commission's work.

The Prime Minister has already announced a “constitution, democracy and rights commission” tasked with ensuring judicial reviews are not “abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays.”

Judicial review (JR) is the process where members of the public can take the government to court to rule on whether their actions are lawful.

It’s a crucial power of the court system, and exists to make sure governments – however strong their hold on power – have to operate within the law.

The Conservative manifesto promised to examine the JR process to ensure it is "not abused" for political reasons.

Ms Braverman wrote: "Yes, courts should operate to curb abuse of power by government.

"But if a small number of unelected, unaccountable judges continue to determine wider public policy, putting them at odds with elected decision-makers, our democracy cannot be said to be representative.

"Parliament’s legitimacy is unrivalled and the reason why we must take back control, not just from the EU, but from the judiciary."

Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper described her appointment as "shocking".

She said: “The appointment of someone who is intent on weakening our courts as the Government’s chief legal adviser is the latest shocking step in Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings’ assault on the rule of law.

“Like Johnson and Cummings, Suella Braverman clearly believes that Tory Ministers should be above the law. That makes her unfit to serve as Attorney General.

“Liberal Democrats will not allow this dangerous, authoritarian Conservative Government to undermine the rule of law and erode individual rights and freedoms.”

It comes after Boris Johnson's cabinet reshuffle was dramatically derailed after Sajid Javid resigned as Chancellor.

The PM ordered Mr Javid to sack all his advisors, in a Number 10 power grab over the Treasury. Mr Javid was replaced by No10-loyal Rishi Sunak- who risks being Chancellor "in name only".

The PM had already sacked four Cabinet ministers and others as he began a shake-up of his top team.

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith was the first to get the chop just weeks after he was celebrated for restoring power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers also lost her job just weeks after clinging onto her seat at the election.

They were followed out the door by Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom,Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Housing Minister Esther McVey – whose departure leaves the Tories with their 10th Housing Minister in 10 years.

 The Prime Minister attempted to brush off questions over who funded his £15k Caribbean holiday by booting out a string of ministers, many of them women – at a cost of £100,000 to the taxpayer.

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