UK’s highest court rules against Scottish independence vote

UK’s highest court rules against Scottish independence vote

LONDON (Reuters) – The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Scotland does not have the power to hold a new independence referendum without the consent of the British government. The judgment is a setback for the Scottish government’s campaign to break with the UK.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would respect the decision but continue the fight for independence, saying Scotland’s “democratic right to choose its own future” was at stake.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Scottish Parliament “does not have the power to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence.”
Supreme Court President Robert Reed said the five justices were unanimous in the verdict, delivered six weeks after lawyers for the Scottish independence administration and the British Conservative government argued their cases at hearings in London .
Independence supporters plan to rally outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and other venues later today.
The semi-autonomous Scottish government wants to hold a referendum next October with the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
The UK government in London is refusing to endorse a vote, saying the issue was settled in a 2014 referendum that saw Scottish voters reject independence by a margin of 55% to 45%.
Edinburgh’s independence government wants to reverse the decision, however, arguing that Britain’s departure from the European Union – which a majority of Scottish voters opposed – has radically changed the political and economic landscape.
Sturgeon argues that she has a democratic mandate from the people of Scotland to stage a new secession vote because there is a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament.
At Supreme Court hearings last month, Dorothy Bain, the Scottish government’s top legal adviser, said the majority of Scottish lawmakers were elected on a pledge to hold a new independence referendum. She also said a referendum would be advisory rather than legally binding – although a ‘yes’ vote would create a strong push for Scotland to separate.
UK Government lawyer James Eadie has argued that the power to hold a referendum rests with the UK Parliament in London because ‘it is of crucial importance to the UK as a whole’, not just the UK. ‘Scotland.
The Supreme Court justices agreed. They said it is clear that “a Bill which provides for an independence referendum – on the end of the sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament over Scotland – has more than a loose or consequential connection with the sovereignty of this Parliament”.
Reed stressed that the court was “not asked, and cannot be asked, to express an opinion on the political question of whether Scotland should become an independent country”.
The UK government has urged Scottish and London politicians to move on and focus on pressing issues such as a struggling economy and a cost of living crisis.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said “the people in Scotland want their two governments to focus their full attention and resources on the issues that matter most to them”.
But Sturgeon said the decision was “a hard pill for any supporter of independence to swallow – and surely indeed for any supporter of democracy”.
“A so-called partnership in which one partner is denied the right to choose a different future… can in no way be described as voluntary or even a partnership,” she said. She ruled out holding an unauthorized referendum, saying “the road we take must be legal and democratic for independence to be achieved.
Sturgeon said she would make Britain’s next national election, due in two years, a de facto plebiscite on ending Scotland’s three-century-old union with England. She said the ruling Scottish National Party would hold a special conference next year to work out the details of that plan.
Polls suggest Scots are about evenly split on independence – and also that a majority of voters don’t want a new referendum any time soon.
Scotland and England have been politically united since 1707. Scotland has had its own parliament and government since 1999 and develops its own policies on public health, education and other matters. The UK-wide government in London controls matters such as defense and fiscal policy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *