Scotland cannot legislate for second independence referendum, Supreme Court rules

Scotland cannot legislate for second independence referendum, Supreme Court rules

THE SUPREME Court has ruled that the Scottish parliament cannot legislate for a second referendum without the consent of Westminster.

The ruling creates an obstacle for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who has set 19 October 2023 as the date for a second independent referendum, having previously held one which was rejected in 2014.

Arguments for allowing the Scottish parliament to legislate for another referendum were heard over two days in October.

In his summary of the unanimous judgment in court, President of the Supreme Court Lord Robert Reed said the court did not accept the Scottish National Party’s argument that Scotland should be allowed to hold another independence referendum because of the right to self-determination under international law.

He said "the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence."

Reed said legislation for a second vote would relate to "reserved matters", making it outside the powers of Holyrood.

"A lawfully-held referendum would have important political consequences in relation to the Union and the United Kingdom Parliament," he said.

"It would either strengthen or weaken the democratic legitimacy of the Union and of the United Kingdom Parliament's sovereignty over Scotland, depending on which view prevailed, and would either support or undermine the democratic credentials of the independence movement.

"It is therefore clear that the proposed bill has more than a loose or consequential connection with the reserved matters of the Union of Scotland and England, and the sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament."

Sturgeon has previously proposed that the next general election in Scotland would be an de-facto referendum in the case that the court reject her planned referendum.

Tweeting after the ruling was made, the first minister said while she was "disappointed", she respected the ruling, adding the Supreme Court "doesn't make law, only interprets it".

Ms Sturgeon added:

"A law that doesn't allow Scotland to choose our own future without Westminster consent exposes as myth any notion of the UK as a voluntary partnership and makes [the] case for independence."

She said she plans to make a full statement this morning at 11.30am.

Scotland held an independence referendum in 2014 and just over 55% voted to remain part of the UK.