After a ruling from the Supreme Court, the Scottish government will be unable to hold a second independence referendum without the consent of the UK government.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was planning to hold ‘indyref2’ – or the second independence referendum – on 19 October 2023, but the unanimous ruling means that these plans will have to be put on hold.
The court made its decision on the basis that such decisions should be made by the central UK government in Westminster, not by the devolved nations.
“Important political consequences”
The president of the court, Lord Reed, said: “A lawfully held referendum would have important political consequences relating to the union and the United Kingdom Parliament.
“Its outcome would possess the authority, in a constitution and political culture founded upon democracy, of a democratic expression of the view of the Scottish electorate.
“It is therefore clear that the proposed Bill has more than a loose or consequential connection with the reserved matters of the Union of Scotland and England, and the sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament.
Responding to the ruling, Nicola Sturgeon told a media conference that the result was “a hard pill for any supporter of independence, and surely indeed for any supporter of democracy, to swallow.
She added: “We must and we will find another democratic, lawful means for Scottish people to express their will,” and went on to accuse Westminster of “democracy denial.”
Wednesday evening saw independence rallies held across Scotland – Ms Sturgeon addressed a crowd as they gathered outside the Scottish Parliament.
She there described the push for a second independence referendum as “Scotland’s democracy movement.”
The BBC reports that opinion polls suggest that the country is narrowly divided on the issue of independence, with a slim majority preferring to stay as part of the UK.
The first independence referendum, held on 18 September 2014, saw a similar result, with 55.3% voting against independence and 44.7% of voters in favour of it.
But in the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish National Party (SNP), Ms Sturgeon’s party, and the Green Party, form a majority that is pro-independence.
Rishi Sunak, the current Prime Minister, said today at Prime Minister’s Questions that he was pleased to hear the “clear and definitive ruling” from the Supreme Court.
He went on: “The people of Scotland want us to be working on fixing the major challenges that we collectively face, whether that’s the economy, supporting the NHS or indeed supporting Ukraine.
“Now is the time for politicians to work together and that’s what this government will do.”
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