U.K. Supreme Court says Scotland can’t hold independence referendum

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The Scottish Parliament has no power to hold a referendum on independence without the consent of the British government, dashing hopes of a second vote next year on whether Scots want to leave the UK.

The decision was made on Wednesday by Britain’s Supreme Court, which ruled that the Scottish Parliament cannot legislate on the matter.

The court sided with the British government, which argued that on “fundamental issues” – such as the fate of trade unions – power rests with the British Parliament, which sits in the Palace of Westminster in London.

The British government – led by Prime Ministers Boris Johnson, Lisa Truss and now Rishi Sunak – has opposed a second referendum.

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The Scottish leader wants a new independence vote in October 2023

The government allowed a referendum in 2014 in which a majority of Scots voted to remain in the United Kingdom by 55 percent to 45 percent.

The issue of independence was complicated two years later in the Brexit vote in June 2016, in which Scots strongly supported remaining in the European Union by 62% to 38%.

Johnson claimed that the 2014 referendum was “once in a generation” and that the issue had been resolved.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Mr Sunack called the court ruling “clear and final” and said the Scottish leadership should focus on more pressing challenges such as fixing the National Health Service and helping the economy.

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had pushed for a referendum next October. Sturgeon leads the Scottish National Party, the country’s biggest pro-independence vote-getter, and she says there is an “indisputable mandate” to vote again.

Her government has set out in reports why it believes Scotland should be separate from the UK now more than ever. Between them? So Scotland could rejoin the European Union.

According to the judgment, Sturgeon issued a statementsaying she respects the Supreme Court, but adds, “It doesn’t make the law, it just interprets it.”

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In a tweet, Sturgeon said: “A bill that prevents Scotland from choosing our future without Westminster’s consent destroys as a myth any notion of the UK as a voluntary partnership and supports India,” short for the second referendum.

“Scottish democracy will not be denied,” she said. “Today’s judgment blocks one way for Scotland’s voice to be heard on independence, but in a democracy our voice cannot and will not be silenced.”

At a press conference, Sturgeon said the next general election, scheduled for no later than January 2025, should serve as a “de facto referendum” on independence. Exactly how this would work is still unclear.


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