Scotland cannot hold 2nd independence referendum without UK government approval, top court rules

Thu, 24 Nov 2022 9:42 GMT
In 2014, Scotland voted 55% to 45% to stay in UK
Scotland cannot hold 2nd independence referendum without UK government approval, top court rules

The UK Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the devolved Scottish parliament cannot legislate for a second independence referendum without prior approval from the national UK government.

The ruling is not a particularly big surprise, but will nonetheless heap further pressure on the relationship between the separatist Scottish National Party (SNP) and the unionist parties that dominate Westminster.

In 2014, Scotland voted 55% to 45% to stay in the UK.

Since then, the ruling SNP has continued to win elections in Scotland, which the nationalist political party says gives them a mandate for a second independence referendum. The party leader and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously said there would be a second referendum on the matter in 2023.

"While disappointed by it I respect ruling of (the UK Supreme Court), it doesn't make law, only interprets it. A law that doesn't allow Scotland to choose our own future without Westminster consent exposes as myth any notion of the UK as a voluntary partnership & makes case for Indy," Sturgeon wrote on Twitter.

Scotland voted against Brexit in 2016, but the UK overall voted to leave the EU – another factor the SNP argue has fundamentally changed the state of British politics, and as such justifies a second independence referendum.


Sturgeon later responded in a statement to the Supreme Court ruling, saying: "The route we take must be lawful and democratic. For independence to be achieved, and as is clearer by the day, achieving independence is not just desirable, it is essential if Scotland is to escape the disaster of Brexit.”

"Let us be blunt, a so-called partnership in which one partner is denied the right to choose a different future, or even to ask itself question cannot be described in any way as voluntary or even a partnership at all,” she said.

"So this ruling confirms that the notion of the UK, a voluntary partnership of nations, if it ever was a reality, is no longer a reality, and that it exposes a situation that is quite simply unsustainable."

Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack said in a statement: “People in Scotland want both their governments to be concentrating all attention and resources on the issues that matter most to them. That’s why we are focussed on issues like restoring economic stability, getting people the help they need with their energy bills, and supporting our NHS (National Health Service).”

Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, tweeted that he welcomed the Supreme Court’s unanimous judgment.

“We know that the majority of Scots do not want another independence referendum,” he continued. “It is now time for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP Government to fully focus on the big challenges facing Scotland.”

Anas Sarwar, the leader of the political party Scottish Labour, said in a statement: “We must now focus on the problems facing our country, from rising bills to the crisis in our NHS. There is not a majority in Scotland for a referendum or independence, neither is there a majority for the status quo. One thing is clear, there is a majority in Scotland and across the UK for a change.”


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