In the government's latest display of tactical genius, it has been found of lying to the Queen in order to get her to break the law.
The prorogation of Parliament has been declared "null and of no effect" by a Scottish court, with three judges unanimously declaring prorogation unlawful "because it had the purpose of stymying Parliament". Given that the Queen was told Parliament should be prorogued to clear the decks for a Queen's Speech, the wording of the ruling suggests that Boris Johnson misled the Queen and that "the advice given was unlawful".
Johnson has made a career out of dishonesty, so it's hard to imagine him sweating it too much while he told Betty his porkie-pies. Still, now it's all out in the open, this – needless to say – is quite a bad look for a Conservative Prime Minister. He lied to the Queen. To use her full title, he told a fib to Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. He bullshitted Her Majesty.
The ruling will be appealed at the Supreme Court in London on Tuesday. Until then, it stands, meaning – technically – Parliament is no longer prorogued. Kevin Brennan, a Welsh Labour MP, turned up to the House of Commons this morning and walked around the chamber, demanding to know where everyone else is. Politicians of all stripes are calling for Parliament to sit again.
Should Tuesday's appeal fail, we can look forward to five weeks of Parliamentary carnage. In the five days that the Prime Minister deigned to subject himself to basic democratic oversight he lost six votes – more than Tony Blair lost in ten years – and ended up sitting in the Commons looking like he was on a comedown. Now, he could face five more weeks of having his failings as a parliamentary performer brutally exposed.
If the appeal succeeds, prorogation is lawful again and today's ruling no longer stands. Either way, how the Tories react to the ruling could have huge implications for the future of their party and the country.
The government's initial response to this ruling is to try to undermine the court as politically biased. A government source told the Sun’s political editor, "We note that last week the High Court in London did not rule that prorogation was unlawful. The legal activists chose the Scottish courts for a reason."
So that's the government, there, having a pop at the legal system and the Union because it was found to have misled the monarch. If you were playing a game where you drink every time we look like a failed state, you'd now be retching as you tried to force down a dirty pint.
Is there any British institution Tories are supposed to cherish that they're not willing to throw into a furnace in order to complete their project to return power to British institutions? We know that, for Downing Street strategist Dominic Cummings, the answer is no. It can surely only be a matter of days before he's doorstepped by reporters and brusquely tells them the Queen is a "pampered, London-based remainiac". He wants to cast Boris as an outsider to a hated remain establishment. Boris vs. Parliament could play well, but Boris vs. the Queen? Not such good optics.
Tory remainer Dominic Grieve MP has suggested Johnson may have to go: "If it were to be the case that this happened [the Queen being misled], Boris Johnson will find himself in an untenable position in Parliament. I hope it would be untenable, not just because of the opposition, [but] because every member of the Conservative Party that believes in our constitution would simply say: it's over."
Meanwhile, Robert Buckland QC MP, the justice secretary, has come out in defence of the judges, tweeting, "Our judges are renowned around the world for their excellence and impartiality and I have total confidence in their independence in every case." He was a remainer, but also a Boris supporter.
The question is: how much more of this will the Tories stand for? They've already put up with the deselection of 21 MPs; now, they're facing a challenge to some pretty basic tenets of their philosophy.
Dominic Cummings doesn’t really care about the Conservative Party, but at what point does the government start alienating too many of Boris Johnson's allies? Are we already seeing massive over-reach from a government losing control, or will Cummings successfully remould the Tories into a party of Brexit ultras?
Until we find out, nothing is sacred.