The ruling by the Supreme Court torpedoed the Scottish nationalist government's push to hold a second plebiscite next year Photo: AFP
world

UK top court rejects Scottish independence vote plans

13 Comments
By Jitendra JOSHI and Stuart GRAHAM

Britain's highest court on Wednesday rejected a bid by the devolved Scottish government in Edinburgh to hold a new referendum on independence without London's consent.

The unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court torpedoed the Scottish nationalist government's push to hold a second plebiscite next year.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who leads the Scottish National Party (SNP), said she respected the ruling, but accused Westminster of showing "contempt" for Scotland's democratic will.

"This ruling confirms that the notion of the UK as a voluntary partnership of nations, if it ever was a reality, is no longer a reality," she told a news conference.

Her government will now look to use the next UK general election due by early 2025 as a "de facto referendum" on separating after more than 300 years.

"We must and we will find another democratic, lawful and constitutional means by which the Scottish people can express their will. In my view, that can only be an election," she added.

Outside the court, David Simpson, 70, who first voted for the SNP in 1970, said he was still hopeful of achieving independence in the future.

"This is not the end of the road," he told AFP. "There is nothing impossible."

In parliament, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the ruling "clear and definitive", adding: "Now is the time for politicians to work together, and that is what this government will do."

The Supreme Court's Scottish president, Robert Reed, said the power to call a referendum was "reserved" to the UK parliament under Scotland's devolution settlement.

Therefore "the Scottish parliament does not have the power to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence", Reed said.

Sturgeon's SNP-led government in Edinburgh wanted to hold a vote next October on the question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

The UK government, which oversees constitutional affairs for the whole country, has repeatedly refused to give Edinburgh the power to hold a referendum.

It considers that the last one -- in 2014, when 55 percent of Scots rejected independence -- settled the question for a generation.

But Sturgeon and her party say there is now an "indisputable mandate" for another independence referendum, particularly in light of the UK's departure from the European Union.

Most voters in Scotland opposed Brexit.

Scotland's last parliamentary election returned a majority of pro-independence lawmakers for the first time.

Opinion polls, however, indicate only a slight lead for those in favor of a split.

At the Supreme Court last month, lawyers for the government in London argued that the Scottish government could not decide to hold a referendum on its own.

Permission had to be granted because the constitutional make-up of the four nations of the United Kingdom -- England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland -- was a reserved matter for the government in London.

Lawyers for the Scottish government wanted a ruling on the rights of the devolved parliament in Edinburgh if London continued to block an independence referendum.

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, Scotland's top law officer, said Scottish independence was a "live and significant" issue in Scottish politics.

The Scottish government was seeking to create its own legal framework for another referendum, arguing that the "right to self-determination is a fundamental and inalienable right".

But the Supreme Court rejected international comparisons raised by the SNP, which had likened Scotland to Quebec or Kosovo.

Reed said international law on self-determination only applied to former colonies, or where a people is oppressed by military occupation, or when a defined group is denied its political and civil rights.

None of that applied to Scotland, he added.

He also rejected the SNP's argument that a referendum would only be "advisory" and not legally binding.

Any such vote would carry "important political consequences" regardless of its legal status, the judge said.

Sturgeon's SNP ran in the 2021 Scottish parliamentary elections on a promise to hold a legally valid referendum after the Covid crisis subsided.

© 2022 AFP

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


13 Comments
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Scotland needs a Braveheart. Scottish hate English (stereotype but quite accurate), and they are sick of being ordered around by Oxford/Eto toffs. The Britexit was the final nail.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Rodney

Today 12:36 pm JST

Scotland needs a Braveheart.

Hrm. You do know how well William Wallace got on in his fight against English oppression, don't you.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Scotland needs a Braveheart. Scottish hate English (stereotype but quite accurate), and they are sick of being ordered around by Oxford/Eto toffs. The Britexit was the final nail.

Scottish do not hate English. Not accurate. Scottish have their own Parliament and are not ordered around by Oxford/Eto toffs.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Rodney: Scotland willingly entered the union with England in 1707 and prospered mightily from it until the 1970s. There was no part of the British Empire without its Scots merchants, bankers, engineers, lawyers and administrators. Thomas Glover comes to mind in Japan. He came over from Shanghai where he was working for Jardine Matheson and played a major role in the Meiji Restoration. The British Empire was a joint venture and the Scottish staggering success would not have been possible outside the union with England. Likewise, England could not have profited as much without the input and dynamism of Scotland. It's a bit rich for some (a minority of) Scots to claim that they were unwilling partners and even colonised! In fact, it's a lie, pure and simple.

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Scottish have their own Parliament and are not ordered around by Oxford/Eto toffs.

But a bunch of Tory toffs won't allow us to hold an independence referendum. Not exactly an equitable "union". Perhaps the UK should change its name to the English Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

albaleo, you had one, if memory serves, 8 short years ago. We had to wait 41 years between referendums on EEC/EU membership, and we've never had a referendum in England on whether we want out of the union with Scotland.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We had to wait 41 years between referendums on EEC/EU membership

Is that not because the people didn't vote for a party that wanted such a referendum in that period? 8 short years ago we were promised all sorts if we remained in the UK, including being sure of remaining in the EU.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

albaleo

Today 04:08 pm JST

But a bunch of Tory toffs won't allow us to hold an independence referendum.

Neither would a Labour government.

Not exactly an equitable "union.

If it's going to be equitable the citizens of the other constituent nations should also have a say on whether Scotland leaves or stays, because there will be repercussions for all of them.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If it's going to be equitable the citizens of the other constituent nations should also have a say on whether Scotland leaves or stays, because there will be repercussions for all of them.

I don't follow your thinking. Sure, there will be consequences - I'm not sure whether they will class as repercussions. But does everyone at your work get a say in whether you can quit or not? And should all EU countries have had a say on whether the UK left?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Supreme Court's Scottish president, Robert Reed, said the power to call a referendum was "reserved" to the UK parliament under Scotland's devolution settlement.

Therefore "the Scottish parliament does not have the power to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence", Reed said.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, is one of the UK most astute politicians.

Baffling, Sturgeon went ahead with such a costly manoeuvre when reviewed the SNP were so unanimously rejected.

???

patience is a virtue.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Scotland's place is within the UK, who else is there to Challenge the English and put them back on track ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

albaleoToday  12:18 am JST

"If it's going to be equitable the citizens of the other constituent nations should also have a say on whether Scotland leaves or stays, because there will be repercussions for all of them."

I don't follow your thinking. Sure, there will be consequences - I'm not sure whether they will class as repercussions.

I don't see much difference in the meaning of those words.

But does everyone at your work get a say in whether you can quit or not?

That's a false equivalency. If you quit a job they get someone else to take your place.

And should all EU countries have had a say on whether the UK left?

It's not really the same kind of situation. They're all still considered to be separate sovereign nations and there are EU rules in place for when and if one country chooses to leave, Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. By setting those rules they have had a say already.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

TokyoOldMan

Today 05:53 am JST

Scotland's place is within the UK, who else is there to Challenge the English and put them back on track ?

Then Scotland needs to stop voting SNP in general elections, especially if Scots don't like being ruled over by old Etonian -Oxbridge Tory toffs. It only increases the Tories' chances of staying in government or Labour only being able to form a minority government. All well and good if Labour and the Lib Dems can work something out, but if they need support from the SNP the price will be another independence referendum. Personally I don't think the SNP have done a good enough job of running Scotland to deserve that.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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