The UK’s highest court rules that a Scottish referendum cannot be held without the consent of the UK government

The UK’s highest court rules that a Scottish referendum cannot be held without the consent of the UK government

LONDON: The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate a new referendum on Scottish independence without the consent of the UK Government.
Britain’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that the devolved Scottish government could not pass a bill through Holyrood allowing for an independent referendum without the consent of Westminster, as this would be outside the Scottish Parliament’s legislative competence.
The SNP-led Scottish government had drawn up a bill which would have provided for a new referendum on the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?” It hoped to hold the referendum in October 2023.
The Lord Advocate, senior lawyer in the Scottish Government, had approached the UK Supreme Court to determine whether such a referendum would be legal.
Under the Scotland Act, 1998, the Scottish Parliament’s power to make legislation is limited. A provision of a bill is not law if it relates to matters reserved to the British Parliament at Westminster. Reserved matters include “Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England” and “The Parliament of the United Kingdom”.
The five judges ruled on Wednesday that the SNP’s proposed Scottish independence Referendum Act dealt with such reserved matters.
The powers of the Scottish Parliament were not at issue in the 2014 referendum because an Order in Council changed the definition of reserved matters to enable the Scottish Parliament to pass the 2014 referendum legislation. The UK Government has refused to do this again.
The Scottish Government had argued that the Scottish people had a right to self-determination under international law.
But the five judges ruled unanimously that the Scotland Act did not breach any principle of self-determination, saying that international law favored states’ territorial integrity and gave no right to secede. They referred to the Supreme Court of Canada’s finding that Quebec did not have the right to secede from Canada unilaterally as “Quebec does not meet the threshold of a colonial people or an oppressed people”.
Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said she was disappointed but accepted the verdict. “In securing Scotland’s independence, we will always be guided by a commitment to democracy and respect for the rule of law,” she said.
“Until now it has been understood and accepted that Britain is a voluntary partnership of nations. A so-called partnership in which one is denied the right to choose a different future cannot in any way be described as voluntary or even a partnership at all” , she said, announcing that she would not resign and the next general election would be a “de facto referendum”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *