Can Scotland hold another referendum on independence without UK approval? The British Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, November 23, judging that any new independence referendum, launched without the agreement of the British government, would be illegal.
The first independence minister, Nicola Sturgeon, had already revealed the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country? », and even the date, October 19, 2023, on which it intended to organize this new consultation. It remained to be seen whether this ballot, which London is opposed to, would be legal.
“The Court unanimously concluded that the proposed law [pour un référendum] falls under the reserved questions » to central power in London, explained the president of the Supreme Court, Robert Reed. Fact, “the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for an independence referendum”.
Nicola Sturgeon said to herself “disappointed” on Twitter by the judgment of the Court, finding that a “law which does not allow Scotland to choose its own future without agreement from Westminster shows that any notion of voluntary partnership with the United Kingdom is a myth”.
1/ While disappointed by it I respect ruling of @UKSupremeCourt – it doesn’t make law, only interprets it. A law t… https://t.co/So1tnV3uCB
“We must and we will find other democratic, legal and constitutional means for the people of Scotland to express their will. From my point of view, this can only be an election”she later claimed at a press conference in Edinburgh.
Opposed to independence, Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar has called for ” rid “ of this Conservative government ” rotten “. “Let’s show that we can make the UK work for all parts of the country”he launched on the BBC.
A debate revived by Brexit
For his part, the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said “respect the clear and final judgment of the Supreme Court”, calling on politicians to ” work together “. Scottish Secretary of State Alister Jack said Edinburgh must now “concentrate (…) on the issues that matter most” for Scots in the midst of a UK cost of living crisis.
The Scots have already refused to 55% in 2014 to leave the United Kingdom. But, in the eyes of the independentists of the Scottish National Party (SNP), in power in Edinburgh, Brexit, which 62% of voters in the province opposed, which has since occurred, has changed the situation. 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 the government in London, Nicola Sturgeon had therefore taken the lead in seizing the Supreme Court, so that it could determine whether the Scottish Parliament had the power to legislate on the question without the agreement of the British government. . The separatist leader believes in particular that she has a “indisputable mandate” to organize such a vote.
Anticipating a refusal by the Supreme Court, Nicola Sturgeon has already warned that she will 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. During the 2021 local elections, she had promised to organize a legally valid referendum once the page of the Covid-19 pandemic was turned.