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Lawmakers scramble for an unexpected return.
Britain’s Parliament is gathering for a sudden, unexpected return on Wednesday, rejoining the chaotic battle over Brexit after a landmark court ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was unlawful.
The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision on Tuesday left lawmakers, who had not expected to reconvene until mid-October, scrambling to return. Mr. Johnson cut short a trip to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, flying back to face a defiant Parliament, a looming Brexit deadline and a new threat of scandal over government funds directed to a woman he was close to.
Mr. Johnson has vowed to deliver Brexit as scheduled on Oct. 31, even if he has not struck a deal with the European Union on Britain’s withdrawal by then. Parliament has voted, over his strenuous objections, to prohibit leaving without an agreement, which economists say would be economically damaging.
Determined to set the nation’s Brexit course, the prime minister had suspended Parliament for five weeks, until Oct. 14, sharply limiting the ability of dissenting lawmakers to get in his way.
Johnson dangled the possibility of another suspension of Parliament.
Even before lawmakers returned to London, Mr. Johnson was saying that he might try to send them away again.
He could have called a simple recess last time, but instead the prime minister asked Queen Elizabeth II to “prorogue” Parliament, ending its legislative session and scheduling a new session next month with a speech by the Queen, laying out the government’s agenda.
The first several days of the new session would have been crowded with the formalities of a Queen’s speech and debate on the government’s proposals, leaving little room to address Brexit or anything else.
Proroguing Parliament and convening a new session with a Queen’s speech is commonplace. What is not standard is imposing a break five weeks long and erecting other barriers to Parliament doing its job while a high-stakes dispute is being resolved, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.
The judges swept aside those obstacles, stating that the previous session was still underway.
But Mr. Johnson said on Tuesday that he still intended to call for a Queen’s speech, meaning that he would end one session of Parliament and start another. But he did not say when.
Any attempt to suspend Parliament again before the Oct. 31 Brexit date would undoubtedly be greeted with fresh outrage, and accusations that the prime minister was flouting the Supreme Court’s decision and improperly forcing the Queen into the center of a political fight.
Johnson probably isn’t going away any time soon.
The prime minister’s troubles are many and well-documented, and he faces new calls to resign in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.
But Mr. Johnson clearly does not intend to step down after just two months in office — that would make him the shortest-serving prime minister in British history — and it is unlikely that his opponents will force the issue.
The opposition Labour Party could call for a vote of no confidence in an attempt to bring down the government and force early elections. It might even succeed, with the votes of some of the lawmakers whom Mr. Johnson expelled from the Conservative Party for defying him.
But the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has been clear that he does not want to force an election until after Brexit has been resolved. The most recent polls have shown Mr. Johnson, for all his problems, still leading his opponents in a hypothetical election.
For the opposition, the more attractive option for now is to leave the prime minister as he is: an enticing target for their daily broadsides, wounded, struggling to deliver on his promises and — they hope — digging himself deeper into a hole.
For the Conservatives, the timing may be especially unlucky.
In Britain, the annual political party conferences are an important forum for proclaiming platforms, rallying the faithful and hashing out differences. But it is not clear when Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party will get the chance.
The Liberal Democrats have already held their conference. The Labour Party held its gathering this week, and was forced to wrap it up in a hurry on Tuesday so that lawmakers could be in Parliament on Wednesday. Some smaller parties are scheduled to meet later in the fall.
But the Conservative conference was set for next week in Manchester — when, it now seems, Parliament will be in session in London.
Johnson faces problems unrelated to Parliament or the E.U.
Beyond his Brexit troubles, Mr. Johnson is also fending off investigations related to his conduct as London mayor from 2008 to 2016.
The Sunday Times of London reported this weekend that Mr. Johnson helped direct tens of thousands of pounds in government money to Jennifer Arcuri, a fledgling American entrepreneur and close friend whose apartment he often visited during working hours.
The London Assembly said on Tuesday that it had written to Mr. Johnson, demanding that he turn over details of all his contacts with Ms. Arcuri during his time as mayor, and an explanation of whether he had disclosed them while public money was being sent her way.
Len Duvall, the chairman of the Greater London Assembly oversight committee, said in the letter to Mr. Johnson that he had two weeks to respond to the questions. The assembly has certain powers to oversee the London mayor, though it was not clear how those applied to a past officeholder, like Mr. Johnson.
Sadiq Khan, the current London mayor, who belongs to the opposition Labour Party, also appointed a lawyer to investigate accusations that Mr. Johnson had hidden a conflict of interest.
Mr. Johnson initially refused to comment on the allegations, but later said he had acted with “complete propriety.”
Richard Pérez-Peña, Benjamin Mueller, and Stephen Castle contributed reporting.