(LONDON) Britain’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in a surprise move that Scotland cannot hold a new independence referendum without the London Agreement, undermining the hopes of a Scottish independence government that wants to put the question at the heart of the next election.
“The court unanimously decided that the bill (a referendum, editor’s note) fell within matters reserved for central authority in London,” Chief Justice Robert Reid explained. Indeed, “the Scottish Parliament has no power to legislate for an independent referendum”.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said she was “disappointed” by the court’s ruling, saying the law, which “doesn’t allow Scotland to choose its own future without Westminster’s agreement, shows that volunteerism with the UK is a myth”.
“Should Scotland be an independent country?” She had already posted the question. “, and on the date, October 19, 2023, he wanted to organize this new consultation.
In 2014 55% of Scots refused to leave the UK. But in the eyes of the SNP separatists in power in Edinburgh, Brexit, opposed by 62% of voters in the province, is a game-changer. They want Scotland to rejoin the EU as an independent country.
The central government in London considers the 2014 referendum to have ended the debate for a generation.
Anticipating a legal deadlock, Nicola Sturgeon took the lead in seizing the Supreme Court.
“Clear and concrete”
The Court held that such a referendum – even a consultation – would have direct effects on the Union of the United Kingdom, which is a “devolved” area to the central government in London, and therefore must give its consent before such a referendum can be held.
Mr. who met this failure in the court.me Sturgeon reiterated at a press conference in Edinburgh that Britain would hold the next general election by January 2025, a “real referendum” on the question of independence.
Addressing representatives in Parliament, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told him he would respect a “clear and final verdict”.
“At this time of unprecedented challenges, the benefits of being part of the United Kingdom are not yet clear,” said Alistair Jack, the British minister for Scotland, “calling on Edinburgh to take heed. […] Issues of utmost importance to Scots amid cost-of-living crisis.
For Independent MP Ian Blackford, the question of the referendum is “a massive question of democracy”. He lashed out at “the so-called partnership, where a partner has no right to choose or question a different future.”
“Fundamental and inalienable right”
Opposing independence, Anas Sarwar, Labor leader in Scotland, called for “get rid of” this “rotten” Conservative government. “We will show all parts of the country that England can work,” he told the BBC.
“This is not the end of the story,” replied David Simpson, 70 and a supporter of independence, outside the Supreme Court. “Nothing is impossible.”
In a hearing last month, Scotland’s top magistrate Dorothy Paine argued that “the right to self-determination is a fundamental and inalienable right”.
But the Supreme Court rejected his arguments on Wednesday, with Robert Reid saying the international law on the right to self-determination only applies to former colonies or people oppressed by military occupation, or when a group cannot access certain rights.
“I would have liked another decision, but it gives a clear answer and I think that’s welcome,” Philippa Whitford, an independent MP, told AFP after the ruling. According to her, supporters of the union still “need to reflect the democratic right of Scots”.