The soap opera that has become British politics added a new favorite character on Tuesday: the spider-brooch-wearing Supreme Court judge who delivered another biting setback to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Lady Brenda Hale, the chief of the top court in Britain, set social media a-chatter with her plain-spoken gutting of the prime minister’s suspension of Parliament, which the court struck down unanimously two weeks after the House of Commons shuttered.
The owly top judge said Johnson’s request to the queen to suspend the lawmaking body for five weeks until the middle of October “was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.”
“Parliament has not been prorogued,” Lady Hale said, reading from a stack of papers. “This is the unanimous judgement of all 11 justices.”
Watch Lady Hale announce the UK Supreme Court verdict on Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament:
"The prorogation was also void and of no effect. Parliament has not been prorogued. This is the unanimous judgement of all 11 justices." https://t.co/OcETF0P27g pic.twitter.com/cLsYFUmNPc
On social media many piled on the praise of the judge and speculated on the meaning of her hulking spider brooch. “I am particularly loving Lady Hale’s ‘Black Widow ? Queen of Justice’ vibe,” tweeted actress Ingrid Oliver. Several declared her the “the Beyoncé of the legal profession.” And comparisons to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the trailblazing U.S. Supreme Court justice, floated about.
More than 2,000 graphic black T-shirts with spider insignias matching Lady Hale’s brooch sold, and the product earned trending status on eBay, according to the BBC.
A Twitter account named “Lady Hale’s Spider Brooch” popped up too. That account, and others, observed that Johnson has tangled himself up in a bit of a web.
Also I am particularly loving Lady Hale’s “Black Widow - Queen of Justice” vibe. pic.twitter.com/WIM4zjxCoY
The speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, said Parliament would rev back into gear Wednesday.
Many had felt that Johnson closed up shop at Westminster to stymie debate on his plan for the country to quit the European Union on Oct. 31. His effort to meet the Halloween Brexit date faces a mountain of obstacles, including legislation passed by Parliament earlier this month to prevent a departure without a deal with the EU.
Before the latest defeat, Johnson had already faced a rebellion from within his own Conservative party and lost his working majority in Parliament. European leaders have said a significant gap remains between the EU and the UK on negotiations. But Johnson has has yet to shy away from the Halloween deadline.
Appearing with President Trump in New York on Tuesday, the prime minister said, “We respect the judiciary in our country. We respect the Court. I disagree profoundly with what they had to say.” President Trump added that a reporter who asked Johnson if he should resign had asked a “very nasty" question.
The British Supreme Court is a relatively young addition to the UK legal system, having formed in 2009. Lady Hale has served on it since its creation and became its president in 2017. She must retire on her 75th birthday in January.