It’s not a surprise. At most a detour, on a path that Scottish nationalists see as drawn in advance, obvious. Britain’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Wednesday that the Scottish Parliament lacked the power to hold a referendum on the nation’s independence. Only Westminster has the right to legislate on these matters, and the elected representatives from Edinburgh will not be able to do without its approval. “disappointed”the Scottish Chief Executive, Nicola Sturgeon, “respect this decision”but remains more determined than ever. “Scottish democracy will not be denied”she hammered.
The British have learned several things from Brexit. One of these lessons is that a voice presented as “advisory” can have enormous political consequences. The referendum to leave the European Union did not commit the British government to comply, but successive prime ministers have made Brexit their campaign argument. The Supreme Court thus cautiously noted that a possible referendum on Scottish independence, even indicative, would have consequences such as “practice” to “valid”and thus buries one of the separatists’ major arguments.
Another point put forward by the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), the majority in the Scottish Parliament, and rejected by the court: the Scots do not fit the definition of “oppressed people”which applies to “former colonies”, “when a people is oppressed” Where “when a definable group is denied meaningful access to government to pursue their political, economic, cultural and social development”. A final interpretation that will undoubtedly be the subject of much debate because nationalists see the impossibility of organizing a referendum as a democratic issue.
During her press conference after the court’s decision, Nicola Sturgeon questioned Britain’s view as “a voluntary partnership of nations” – one “myth”according to her. “Let’s be honest: A so-called partnership in which one of the partners is denied the right to choose a different future – or even to ask the question – can in no way be described as voluntary or even as a partnership. very short », she pointed out. His party will therefore launch one ‘major campaign to defend Scottish democracy’. A way to reframe the independence debate, at a time when opinion polls do not provide a clear majority on this issue, and when undecided voters will be able to tip the balance one way or the other.
The 2024 election already promises to be tense
This vision of the future is in direct contrast to London’s, who believe the issue was already settled in 2014, with 55.3% of Scots saying “Nix” independence in a previous referendum. But for the SNP, the situation has changed: Scotland was forced out of the EU when it had voted 66% to remain, and the cost of living crisis weighing on Scots would, according to the party, be better managed from Edinburgh than by a Conservative government in London. The Supreme Court ruling removes the possibility of a 2023 referendum, but the nationalists have thought of a remedy: to use the next election, in 2024, as a de facto referendum. This election already promises to be tense as the Tories across the country are significantly behind in the polls and could be overtaken by Labor after twelve consecutive years in power. In Scotland, the Conservatives only have 6 MP seats compared to 44 for the SNP. Scottish-born Labor has only one MP left in Scotland since the 2019 election.
Welsh separatists from YesCymru responded to the High Court announcement by condemning it “the death of democracy”, and are outraged by “refusal to grant a fundamental right to citizens of Scotland”. For her part, the director of the unionist Scotland in the Union campaign, Pamela Nash, asked the SNP and the Greens “to listen to the vast majority of Scots who do not want a divisive second referendum and who want to vote for the issues that really matter at the next election”. For her, the Scottish semi-autonomous government must “let go of one’s obsession” and “focus on the people’s priorities”. The First Minister plans to ask her party to arrange a special conference on Scottish independence next year.