ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP
The Scottish First Minister reiterates that the next election will be a “de facto” referendum
UNITED KINGDOM – Britain’s Supreme Court unsurprisingly ruled on Wednesday that Scotland could not hold another independence referendum without London’s deal, dampening the hopes of the Scottish independence government, which intends to put the issue at the center of the next general election.
“The court unanimously concluded that the bill (for a referendum, editor’s note) falls within the reserved questions” to central power in London, said Chief Justice Robert Reed. Fact, “The Scottish Parliament has no power to legislate for an independence referendum”.
Sturgeon very “disappointed”
That’s what Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said “disappointed” by the Court’s judgment, which found that a “law which does not allowScotland choosing its own future without the Westminster deal shows that any notion of a willing partnership with Britain is a myth.”.
She had already revealed the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?”and even the date of October 19, 2023, when it wanted to organize this new hearing.
Already in 2014, 55% of Scots refused to leave the UK. But in the eyes of SNP separatists in power in Edinburgh, the Brexit that has since taken place, which 62% of voters in the province opposed, is a game-changer. They want Scotland to rejoin the EU as an independent state.
But the central government in London strongly opposes any further independence referendum and sees the 2014 vote as the end of the debate for a generation.
Anticipating a legal battle with London, Nicola Sturgeon had taken the lead in taking the case to the Supreme Court to rule on the issue that divides Scots.
“Clear and definitive”
The Court found that such a referendum – even advisory – would have direct consequences for the unification of the United Kingdom, a territory “Reserve” to the central government in London, which must therefore give its consent before such a vote is held.
Addressing MPs in Parliament, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he respected “Clear and final verdict” by the Supreme Court and called on the politicians to ” work together “.
For his part, the British minister responsible for Scotland, Alister Jack, confirmed that Edinburgh must now “focus (…) on the issues that matter most” for Scots amid a cost of living crisis in the UK.
Faced with this legal failure, Nicola Sturgeon reiterated at a press conference in Edinburgh that she would make the next general election in the United Kingdom, to be held in January 2025, a “de facto referendum” on the issue of independence.
In the local elections of 2021, she had promised to organize a legally valid referendum once the page of the pandemic had turned.
“We must and we will find other democratic, legal and constitutional means for the Scottish people to express their will”she said Wednesday.
“Fundamental and inalienable right”
“It’s not the end of the story”responded outside the Supreme Court David Simpson, 70-year-old pro-independence supporter. ” Nothing is impossible. “
In opposition to independence, the leader of Labor in Scotland, Anas Sarwar, urged him to do so “free” by this conservative government “rotten”. “Let’s show we can make Britain work for every part of the country”he launched on the BBC.
At the hearing last month, Scotland’s chief justice, Dorothy Bain, argued that “the right to self-determination was a fundamental and inalienable right”.
But the Supreme Court rejected his arguments on Wednesday, with Robert Reed saying that international self-determination law only applies to former colonies or populations oppressed by military occupation, or when a group does not have access to certain rights.
“I would have preferred a different decision, but it gives a clear answer and I think that is welcome”told AFP at the end of the judgment Philippa Whitford, independentist deputy.
“I think that while many supporters of the union can welcome it, they also have to realize that it raises questions about the nature of Britain. We are told all the time that this is a voluntary union and therefore they need to think about the democratic right that Scots have to choose their own future.”.
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