Scotland may not hold a referendum on Scottish independence for the time being. The British High Court ruled unanimously that the Scottish Parliament should not have organized such a referendum in London without the government’s permission.
The High Court said the Scottish Parliament had no jurisdiction in constitutional matters, including union between Scotland and England. This power resides in the Parliament of the United Kingdom in London.
The ruling represents a setback for the Scottish independence movement, which has been striving for decades to secede from the United Kingdom. In 2014, Scots actually went to the polls to vote for independence. In that referendum, 55% voted against secession.
This was the end of the matter for the national government in London: the Scots did indeed gain permission to hold a referendum, but only if a plebiscite was held only once per generation. This means that any possible new referendum will have to wait decades.
But according to Scottish Prime Minister Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party (SNP), the political situation has changed so much since 2014 that a new referendum is warranted. For example, there was Brexit, which the vast majority of Scots opposed. Sturgeon argues that Scotland should have left the EU against its will.
She wanted to try again on October 19 next year, but not after the High Court issued an answer on whether the Scottish parliament had the power to call a referendum on an issue affecting the whole of the UK.
Sturgeon expressed her disappointment in an initial response. “If the law does not allow Scotland to decide its own future without London’s consent, then it is proven a myth that the United Kingdom is based on voluntary co-operation. That calls for independence.”
Earlier, Sturgeon had said that if the Supreme Court rejected her, she would go for Plan B. She would then campaign solely on the issue of independence in the next national election. If the SNP wins more than 50 per cent of the Scottish vote, that result, she says, will be considered a de facto referendum.
The next elections will be held in January 2025 at the latest.
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