UK Supreme Court rejects plans to vote for Scottish independence

The UK Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a proposal from the decentralized Scottish government in Edinburgh to hold a new independence referendum without the consent of London.

The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision undermined the desire of the Scottish Nationalist government to hold a second plebiscite the following year.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) said it would turn the next general election into a de facto vote on secession from the rest of the United Kingdom if it did so, threatening constitutional chaos.

First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said she respected the decision but was “disappointed”.

If Scotland cannot “choose its own future without the consent of Westminster,” the idea of ​​the UK as a voluntary partnership has been debunked as a “myth,” she tweeted.

Out of court, David Simpson, 70, who first voted for the SNP in 1970, said he still hopes to achieve independence in the future.

“This is not the end of the road,” he told AFP. “Nothing is impossible”.

Alistair Jack, British Secretary of State for Scotland welcomed the ruling.

“The people in Scotland want both their governments to focus all their attention and resources on the issues that matter most to them,” he said in a statement.

Scottish Chief Justice Robert Reed said the power to call a referendum is “reserved” to the British Parliament under the Scottish delegation agreement.

Therefore, “the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence,” Reade said.

The Sturgeon government, under the leadership of the SNP in Edinburgh, wanted to hold a vote the following October on the question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

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The British government, which oversees the constitutional affairs of the entire country, has repeatedly refused to give Edinburgh the right to hold a referendum.

He believes that the latest – in 2014, when 55 percent of the Scots gave up independence – decided the issue for a generation.

But Sturgeon and her party say there is now an “undisputed mandate” to hold another independence referendum, especially in light of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Most voters in Scotland opposed Brexit.

– Scotland is not Kosovo –

In the last parliamentary elections in Scotland, for the first time, a majority of pro-independence legislators returned.

However, public opinion polls show only a marginal advantage for the secessionists.

At the UK Supreme Court last month, government lawyers in London said the Scottish government could not decide on its own to hold a referendum.

Permission had to be granted because the constitutional four-nation composition of the United Kingdom was reserved for the government in London.

Scottish government lawyers demanded a decision on the rights of a decentralized parliament in Edinburgh if London continued to block an independence referendum.

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, Scotland’s chief lawyer, said that Scottish independence is a “living and important” issue in Scottish politics.

The Scottish Government sought to create its own legal basis for another referendum, arguing that “the right to self-determination is a fundamental and inalienable right”.

But the Supreme Court rejected international comparisons made by the SNP, which compared Scotland to Quebec or Kosovo.

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Reid said that the international law of self-determination only applies to former colonies, either when a people is oppressed by military occupation, or when a certain group is denied its political and civil rights.

None of this applies to Scotland, the Chief Justice said.

He also rejected the SNP’s argument that the referendum would only be “consultative” and not legally binding.

The judge said that any such vote would have “important political implications” regardless of its legal status.

Without court approval, Sturgeon has vowed to make the next UK general election, due to be held no later than January 2025, a campaign for independence.

Sturgeon’s SNP ran in the 2021 Scottish parliamentary election, promising to hold a legally valid referendum once the Covid crisis subsides.