Scotland cannot hold an independence referendum without London’s agreement

The question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” », and the date, October 19, 2023, is already known. But can independent Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon organize this new referendum without the London deal? The British Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Wednesday, and the answer is no.

Scots have already refused 55% in 2014 to leave the UK. But in the eyes of SNP separatists in power in Edinburgh, Brexit, which 62% of voters in the province opposed since stepping in, is a game-changer. They want Scotland to rejoin the EU as an independent state. The central government in London strongly opposes any new independence referendum and believes the 2014 vote has closed the debate for a generation.

“Right to self-determination”

Anticipating a legal battle with the government in London, Nicola Sturgeon had taken the lead in bringing a High Court case to decide whether the Scottish Parliament has the power to legislate on the issue without the consent of the UK government, on an issue that Scots are particularly divided according to the opinion polls. The separatist leader believes she has an “indisputable mandate” to organize such an election, particularly because of the SNP’s majority in the local parliament. She said she was “disappointed” after the Supreme Court decision. “Today’s judgment blocks a way for Scotland’s voice to be heard on independence, but in a democracy a voice cannot and will not be silenced,” she added.

At last month’s High Court hearing, lawyers representing the London government argued that the Scottish government cannot decide for itself whether to hold a referendum: Edinburgh must seek permission as it is a matter reserved for central government. Opposing, Scotland’s highest judge, Dorothy Bain, argued that “the right to self-determination is a fundamental and inalienable right”.

Nicola Sturgeon had already warned. She reiterated on Wednesday that Britain’s next general election, to be held in January 2025, will be a “de facto referendum” on the nation’s independence. “We must and will find other democratic, legal and constitutional means for the Scottish people to express their will. From my point of view it can only be a choice,” she told a news conference in Edinburgh.

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