Sun. Dec 4th, 2022

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the Scottish Parliament does not have the legislative authority to hold a consultative referendum on independence next year.

The ruling was handed down on Wednesday morning, following a case brought by the Scottish Government and Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party in October.

What is the background?

Britain’s Supreme Court heard whether Scotland’s semi-autonomous government could hold a vote on independence without the consent of the government in London.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had planned to hold another independence referendum in October next year, but the UK government was adamant it would not happen, saying the 2014 referendum – won by the “No” campaign with 55% of the vote to 44% in favor of independence — was a “once-in-a-generation event”.

Since then, the numbers have dwindled and Scots are evenly split on independence, although they have consistently returned pro-independence politicians to parliaments in Westminster and Edinburgh over the past eight years, and the SNP has won every national election since.

The Scottish Parliament currently has a majority of pro-independence MSPs from Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party and the Greens.

Sturgeon and the SNP argue that Britain’s exit from the European Union and the coronavirus pandemic have upended politics and the economy, and that it is time to reconsider the case for independence.

How did the court case go?

Five judges of Britain’s Supreme Court in London heard arguments in the case over several days in October.

The British government’s position was that only Westminster could give the green light to any new independence referendum because constitutional issues remained the responsibility of the London government and were not devolved to Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, lawyers for the Scottish Government argued that the proposed referendum — like the 2016 Brexit referendum — would only be advisory and would not in itself mean Scotland becoming independent, because before that could actually happen, there should be negotiations and new laws passed.

And what will happen now?

Pro-independence activists staged rallies in 14 Scottish towns and cities on Wednesday night and in five locations across Europe — in Brussels, Paris, Rome, Berlin and Munich — events planned to take place regardless of the outcome of the judgment. of the Supreme Court.

“Supporters of a second independence referendum will be on the streets across the country following the Supreme Court ruling,” said Lesley Riddoch, of Time for Scotland a campaign that organizes rallies.

“Their decision greatly affects plans for a second referendum, and the desire among 50 per cent of Scots for another opinion on our future must be visible and have an impact at this critical time,” she added.

Nicola Sturgeon has previously said that unless the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Scottish Government, the next UK general election will become a de facto independence vote, with her party campaigning on that single issue.