Thu. Dec 1st, 2022

The UK Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the Scottish government cannot hold a second independence referendum without the approval of the British Parliament, dealing a hammer blow to nationalist hopes of holding a vote next year.

In 2014, the Scots rejected the termination of the more than 300-year-old union with England by a 55 to 45 percent vote, but independence fighters argued that the vote two years later for Britain’s exit from the European Union, which was opposed by the majority of Scottish voters, significantly changed the circumstances.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), announced earlier this year that she intended to hold an advisory vote on independence on October 19, 2023, but that it must be legal and internationally recognized.

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However, the British government in London said it would not give permission for another plebiscite, saying it should be a once-in-a-generation event. Polls show voters remain evenly split on whether or not they support independence and the vote would be too close to call.

The Scottish Government’s top legal officer has asked the UK Supreme Court whether the Scottish Government can pass legislation paving the way for a second consultative referendum without the approval of the UK Parliament.

The unanimous verdict of the five judges in the court was that it cannot.

“The Scottish Parliament has no power to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence,” said Robert Reed, chief justice of the UK Supreme Court.

Click to play video: 'What about the Scottish independence vote?'

What about the Scottish independence vote?

Under the Scotland Act 1998, which established the Scottish Parliament and devolved some powers from Westminster, all matters relating to the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England were reserved for the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The court concluded that any referendum, even an advisory one, would be a reserved matter.

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Although the court’s decision will disappoint nationalists, it will be far from the end of the matter.

The SNP, which has dominated Scottish politics for more than a decade, winning a large majority of Scottish seats in the 2019 UK election, claimed the UK government’s refusal to allow another vote meant Scots’ views were being ignored.

Sturgeon has already promised that a Supreme Court defeat will mean her party will fight the next UK election, due in 2024, solely on the platform of whether Scotland should be independent, making it “de facto”. referendum.

“A bill that does not allow Scotland to choose its own future without consent from Westminster exposes as a myth any idea of ​​the UK as a voluntary partnership and makes the case for Indy (independence),” Sturgeon said on Twitter.

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