Britain’s Supreme Court says Scotland cannot hold an independence referendum


LONDON – The Scottish Parliament has no power to call an independence referendum without the British government’s consent, dashing hopes of a second vote next year on whether Scots want to leave the UK.

The decision was taken on Wednesday by Britain’s High Court, which ruled that the Scottish Parliament cannot legislate on the matter.

The court sided with the British government, which argued that over “fundamental matters” – such as the fate of the union – power rests with the British Parliament, which sits in London’s Palace of Westminster.

The British government – ​​under Prime Ministers Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and now Rishi Sunak – is opposed to a second referendum.

Scotland’s leader is aiming for another independence vote in October 2023

The government did allow a referendum in 2014, in which a majority of Scots voted to remain in the UK, by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent.

The independence issue was complicated two years later in the June 2016 Brexit vote – in which Scots strongly supported staying in the European Union, by 62 percent to 38 percent.

Johnson argued that the 2014 referendum was “once in a generation” and that the issue was resolved.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Sunak called the court’s ruling “clear and final”, and said Scotland’s leadership must focus on more pressing challenges, such as repairing the National Health Service and helping the economy.

The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, had pushed for a referendum in October next year. Sturgeon leads the Scottish National Party, the country’s biggest vote-getter, which is pushing for independence, and says there is an “undisputed mandate” to cast another vote.

Her government has set out in reports why it believes Scotland should now – more than ever – be separated from the United Kingdom. Amongst them? This allowed Scotland to rejoin the European Union.

After the verdict, Sturgeon has issued a statementShe said she respected the Supreme Court, but added: “It doesn’t make a law, it just interprets it.”

In a tweet, Sturgeon said: “A law not allowing Scotland to choose our own future without Westminster’s consent debunks any idea of ​​the UK as a voluntary partnership as a myth and calls for Indy,” shorthand for a second referendum.

“Scottish democracy will not be denied,” she said. “Today’s ruling blocks one way for Scotland’s voice to be heard on independence – but in a democracy our voice cannot and will not be silenced.”

At a news conference, Sturgeon said the next general election, scheduled for January 2025 at the latest, should serve as a “de facto referendum” on independence. Exactly how this will work is still unclear.

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