No Indyref2 vote without UK government consent, rules court

No Indyref2 vote without UK government consent, rules court

The Scottish government cannot call an independence vote without the consent of UK government, the Supreme Court has ruled.

According to the terms of the 1998 Scotland Act, the Scottish Parliament has no powers to legislate where matters are reserved to the UK parliament, which includes the union between Scotland and England.

Judges on the court heard evidence from Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC (representing the Scottish Government) and Sir James Eadie KC (representing the UK Government).

Lord Reed, who has been President of the Supreme Court since January 2020, ruled that the power to hold a referendum on the Union was “a reserved matter”.

The Scottish National Party had previously said that they wanted to call a referendum for 19 October 2023.

Under the arrangements set out by the Supreme Court, a Section 30 request would need to be made under the terms of the 1998 Scotland Act to the UK Government to temporarily transfer the necessary powers from Westminster to Holyrood to allow a referendum to be held.

The last referendum in 2014 returned a majority for Scotland’s continued membership of the UK. The UK government has said it has no plans to hold a new independence referendum.

Following the decision, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Scottish democracy will not be denied. Today’s ruling blocks one route to Scotland’s voice being heard on independence – but in a democracy our voice cannot and will not be silenced.”

Four consecutive prime ministers have refused Sturgeon’s requests to grant a section 30 order.

The Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, said:

"People in Scotland want both their governments to be concentrating all attention and resources on the issues that matter most to them. That’s why we are focussed on issues like restoring economic stability, getting people the help they need with their energy bills, and supporting our NHS.".

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