Britain’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the Scottish government does not have the right to hold a second referendum on independence next year without the consent of the British Parliament.
Chief Justice Robert Reid of the UK Supreme Court said the Scottish Parliament did not have the power to pass legislation allowing a referendum on Scottish independence.
Reid added that the judges unanimously decided that such a referendum would have consequences for the unity of the United Kingdom and would therefore require the approval of the central authority in London.
In a swift reaction to the decision, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed her “disappointment” at the ruling, but declared she respected the judiciary’s decision.
“The law which does not allow Scotland to choose its future without the consent of the UK Parliament exposes the idea that the UK is a voluntary partnership,” the SNP leader wrote on Twitter.
In turn, after the verdict, the British government urged Edinburgh to “focus” on the needs of the Scottish people. “We note and respect the unanimous judgment of the High Court,” said Alistair Jack, secretary of state for Scotland, in a statement.
The Edinburgh government wanted to vote on the question in October next year: should Scotland be an independent country? But the UK government, which oversees constitutional affairs for the whole country, has repeatedly denied Edinburgh the power to hold a referendum.
The British government thought the last referendum in 2014, when 55% rejected Scottish independence, had settled the question for an entire generation.
But Sturgeon and her party now say there is an “unquestionable mandate” for another independence referendum, particularly in light of the UK’s exit from the EU.
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