UK top court rules against Scottish independence vote plan

LONDON: The UK’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Scotland does not have the right to hold a new referendum on independence without the consent of the British government. The verdict is a step backwards for the Scottish government’s campaign to secede from the UK.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would respect the ruling but continue to fight for independence, saying Scotland’s “democratic right to choose our own future” was at stake.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Parliament “has no legislative power for a referendum on Independent Scotland.”
Supreme Court President Robert Reed said the five justices were unanimous in the ruling, which came six weeks after lawyers for the pro-independence Scottish government and the UK Conservative government argued over the case. their work at the London hearings.
Independence advocates plan to rally outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and at other locations later in the day.
Scotland’s semi-autonomous government wants to hold a referendum next October asking “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
The UK government in London refused to pass a vote, saying the question was settled in a 2014 referendum that saw Scottish voters reject independence by a margin of 55% to 45%.
However, the pro-independence government in Edinburgh wants to reconsider the decision, arguing that Britain’s departure from the European Union – which most Scottish voters oppose – has radically changed the political landscape and economy.
Sturgeon argued that she was democratically authorized by the Scottish people to hold a new secession vote because of a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament.
During Supreme Court hearings last month, Dorothy Bain, the Scottish government’s top law officer, said the majority of Scottish lawmakers had been elected with a pledge to hold a referendum. new independence. She also said a referendum would be advisory, rather than legally binding – although a “yes” vote would give a strong incentive for Scotland to secede.
UK government lawyer James Eadie argues that the right to hold a referendum rests with the UK Parliament in London, because “it is of particular importance for the UK as a whole”. , not just Scotland.
The Supreme Court justices agreed. They make it clear that “The Bill that provides for an independence referendum – on ending UK Parliamentary sovereignty over Scotland – has many loose or related links. to the sovereignty of that Parliament.”
Reed stressed that the court “was not asked, and could not be asked, to express a position on the political question of whether Scotland should become an independent nation.”
The British government urged politicians in Scotland and London to move on and focus on pressing issues such as the struggling economy and the cost of living crisis.
Scotland’s Minister Alister Jack said “people in Scotland want both their governments to focus all their attention and resources on the issues that matter most to them.”
But Sturgeon said the ruling was “a hard pill to swallow for any pro-independence – and certainly for any pro-democracy.”
“The so-called partnership in which one partner is denied the right to choose another future… cannot be described in any way as voluntary or even a partnership,” she said. She ruled out holding an unauthorized referendum, saying “the path we take must be legal and democratic to achieve independence.”
Sturgeon has said she will make the UK’s next national election, in two years, a de facto referendum on ending Scotland’s three-century alliance with Britain. She said the governing Scottish National Party would hold a special conference next year to discuss the details of that plan.
Polls show Scots are almost evenly divided on independence — and a majority of voters also don’t want a new referendum anytime soon.
Scotland and England have been politically united since 1707. Scotland has had its own parliament and government since 1999 and has made its own policies on public health, education and other matters. Governments across the UK in London control matters such as fiscal and defense policy.


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