Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks at a press conference to launch a second Independence Paper at Pete House on July 14, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
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LONDON – The UK’s High Court on Wednesday told the Scottish government that it could not hold a new referendum on independence without UK government approval.
The Chief Justice, Lord Reid, said in radio remarks that the Scottish Parliament did not have the power to legislate on matters reserved for the Parliament of the United Kingdom, including union.
A referendum was held in September 2014 in which Scotland voted to remain in the United Kingdom by 55% to 45%.
The Scottish National Party, which supports independence, became a major political force when it won a majority in the Scottish Parliament in the 2011 election.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who has served as Scotland’s first minister since November 2014, He said Her party was elected on “a clear promise to give the people of Scotland the choice of independence”.
In a speech after the decision, Sturgeon said she was disappointed with the decision but respected and accepted it.
However, she made it clear that the debate over whether to hold another referendum is far from resolved, and the party will continue to press for Scottish independence and look for ways to hold another referendum.
Sturgeon said: “The path we are on must be legal and democratic to achieving independence. And as it is becoming more and more clear by the day, the achievement of independence is not only desirable but essential for Scotland to survive the catastrophe of Brexit, and the detriment” of the policies it imposes. Governments we don’t vote for, a low-growth economic model and high inequality that hold us back.”
She continued, “However, we must be clear today that the Supreme Court does not make the law – it interprets and applies it.”
She said the court did not comment on whether there was a democratic mandate to hold a referendum, which she called “undeniable”.
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader in the House of Commons, said the government “denies[ing] Democracy for the people of Scotland “and to continue to obstruct elections means that the notion that the United Kingdom is a voluntary federation of nations is now dead and buried”.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak responded, “We respect the clear and final decision of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.”
“I think the people of Scotland want us to work on collectively fixing the major challenges we face, whether that be the economy, supporting the NHS, or actually supporting Ukraine. Now is the time for politicians to work together, and so will the government.”
He also said that the Scottish Parliament had strong blown powers.
Sturgeon in 2017 secured approval from the Scottish parliament for another referendum after the terms of any Brexit deal became clear, but this was blocked by then British Prime Minister Theresa May.
The SNP currently holds 64 of the 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, with the remaining seats split between Scottish Conservative, Unionist, Labor, Green and Liberal Democrat parties. It holds 44 of the 650 seats in the Parliament of the United Kingdom in Westminster.
Since the Brexit vote in 2016, one of its primary arguments has been that Scotland voted to remain in the EU by 62% to 38%. Sturgeon said her party would immediately seek to rejoin the bloc with Scotland as an independent country, although questions remained over issues such as trade and freedom of movement, and whether joining the euro would be a criterion for membership.
Last month, the party published a dossier Economic Bulletin arguing that Scotland’s economy would be “stronger and fairer” after independence.
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