Scottish government loses independence referendum court case

The Scottish government cannot hold an independence referendum without the UK government's consent, the Supreme Court ruled today, 23 November.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold a referendum on 19 October next year.

But the court ruled unanimously that she does not have the power to do so.

The UK government has so far refused to grant the formal consent for a vote that was in place before the referendum in 2014.

Court president Lord Reed said the laws that created the devolved Scottish Parliament in 1999 meant it did not have the power to legislate on areas of the constitution including the union between Scotland and England.

And he rejected the Scottish government's argument that any referendum would be "advisory" and would have no legal effect on the union, with people simply being asked to give their opinion on whether or not Scotland should become an independent country.

The judge said the Scottish government proposed referendum bill therefore relates to a matter that is reserved to the UK Parliament.

In the absence of an agreement between the two governments, the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for a referendum, he said.

Posted on Nov 23, 2022.

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