Scotland’s request for a second secession referendum rejected


Block on Scotland’s appetites from Britain’s Supreme Court

Britain’s Supreme Court has ruled that the Scottish government cannot unilaterally hold a second referendum on whether to secede from the United Kingdom, dealing a blow to independence campaigners.

The court unanimously rejected the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) bid to hold a vote next October as it does not have the approval of the British Parliament.

This decision is unlikely to quell the heated debate over independence that has dominated British politics for a decade.

Scotland last held a vote on the issue – with the approval of the House – in 2014, when voters rejected the prospect of independence by 55% to 45%.

Successive SNP leaders have pledged to give Scottish voters another chance to vote, particularly since the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016 (Brexit).

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s latest push was to hold an advisory referendum late next year, similar to the 2016 referendum that led to Brexit.

But the country’s highest court agreed that even a non-legally binding vote would require oversight from Westminster, given its practical implications.

“A legal referendum would have significant political consequences in relation to the Union and the UK Parliament,” Lord Reid said as he read out the court’s decision.

“It would either strengthen or weaken the democratic legitimacy of the Union and of UK sovereignty in Scotland, depending on the prevailing view, and would either support or undermine the democratic credentials of the independence movement,” he added.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she accepted the decision on Wednesday but tried to frame the ruling as another pillar in the argument for secession.

“A law that does not allow Scotland to choose its future without the consent of Westminster exposes as a myth any UK notion of voluntary cooperation and strengthens the case for independence,” he tweeted.

“Scottish democracy will not be challenged,” he said. “Today’s decision blocks a way for Scotland’s voice to be heard on independence – but in a democracy our voice cannot and will not be silenced.”

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