Scotland will not be able to hold a new referendum on its independence without the agreement of the British Parliament, the country’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.
The British Supreme Court ruled unsurprisingly on Wednesday that Scotland could not organize a new independence referendum without the London agreement, dampening the hopes of the Scottish government which wanted to hold such a consultation next year.
“The Court unanimously concluded that the bill (for a referendum, editor’s note) falls within the matters reserved” for the central power in London, explained the President of the Supreme Court Robert Reed. In fact, “the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for an independence referendum”.
Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed her disappointment: “While disappointed, I respect the judgment” of the Supreme Court, the independence leader said on Twitter. ‘Today’s judgment blocks a path for Scotland’s voice to be heard on independence, but in a democracy a voice cannot and will not be silenced,’ she added .
She had already unveiled the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?”, and even the date, October 19, 2023, on which she wanted to organize this new consultation.
1/ While disappointed by it I respect ruling of @UKSupremeCourt – 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
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) November 23, 2022
The Scots have already refused to 55% in 2014 to leave the United Kingdom. But in the eyes of the SNP separatists in power in Edinburgh, the Brexit that has since taken place, which 62% of voters in the province opposed, is a game-changer. They want Scotland to rejoin the European Union as an independent state.
But the central government in London strongly opposes any further independence referendums and sees the 2014 vote as closing the debate for a generation.
Anticipating a legal tussle with London, Nicola Sturgeon had taken the lead in seizing the Supreme Court to position itself on the question which divides the Scots.
A “clear and final judgment”
The Court considered that such a referendum – even consultative – would have direct consequences on the union of the United Kingdom, an area “reserved” to the central government in London which must therefore give its agreement before such a vote is held. .
Before the deputies in Parliament, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he respected “the clear and final judgment” of the Supreme Court and called on politicians to “work together”.
For his part, the British minister responsible for Scotland Alister Jack said that Edinburgh must now “focus (…) on the issues that matter most” to Scots in the midst of a cost of living crisis in the Kingdom. -United.
Faced with this failure in court, Nicola Sturgeon repeated at a press conference in Edinburgh that she would make the next general election in the United Kingdom, which must be held by January 2025, a “de facto referendum”. on the question of independence. In the local elections of 2021, she had promised to organize a legally valid referendum once the page of the pandemic was turned.
“We must and we will find other democratic, legal and constitutional means for the people of Scotland to express their will,” she said on Wednesday.
“It’s not the end of the story,” reacted outside the Supreme Court David Simpson, 70 years old supporter of independence. “Nothing is impossible.”
Opposed to independence, the leader of Labor in Scotland, Anas Sarwar, called on him to “get rid” of this “rotten” Conservative government. “Let’s show that we can make the UK work for all parts of the country,” he told the BBC.