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Scotland: Second independence referendum blocked by Supreme Court

THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT is not permitted to hold its own independence referendum, the Supreme Court has concluded.

The Scottish Parliament cannot pass legislation for the indyref2 because constitutional questions are “reserved” to Westminster, according to a five-judge panel, which is a setback for Nicola Sturgeon.

The Scottish Parliament does not have the authority to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence, according to Supreme Court President Lord Reed, who announced the majority decision.

After Sturgeon announced plans to hold a second referendum on independence on October 19 of next year, the case was brought before the court.

If that proved to be impossible, she asserted, the SNP would turn the upcoming general election into a “de facto referendum” on the issue of Scottish independence.

The SNP and their efforts to secure Scottish independence have suffered a serious defeat as a result of the comprehensive verdict.

This came after a two-day hearing last month on whether the Scottish Parliament has the legal authority to adopt a Scottish Independence Referendum Bill establishing a second vote the next year.

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC, the chief legal advisor to the Scottish government, has referred the case to the Supreme Court for a final decision.

The UK Government asserted that it is “clear” that the Bill relates to an issue that belongs in Westminster and that it is against a second referendum on independence.

According to Lord Reed, who summarised the Supreme Court’s ruling this morning, legislation enabling a second independence referendum would deal with “reserved topics” and fall outside of Holyrood’s purview.

He said: “A lawfully-held referendum would have important political consequences relation to the union [between England and Scotland] and the United Kingdom parliament.

“Its outcome would possess the authority, in a constitution and political culture founded upon democracy, of a democratic expression of the view of the Scottish electorate.

“It would either strengthen or weaken the democratic legitimacy of the union and of the United Kingdom parliament’s sovereignty over Scotland, depending on which view prevailed, and would either support or undermine the democratic credentials of the independence movement.

“It is therefore clear that the proposed bill has more than a loose or consequential connection with the reserved matters of the Union of Scotland and England, and the sovereignty of the United Kingdom parliament.”

Reacting to the ruling, Sturgeon said “Scottish democracy will not be denied”.

She added: “Today’s ruling blocks one route to Scotland’s voice being heard on independence – but in a democracy our voice cannot and will not be silenced.”

Ian Murray, Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary, said: “The UK Supreme Court has made their decision and we should respect that and thank them for their work.

“The people of Scotland do want and need change regardless of their views on the constitution.

“Change is coming with a UK Labour government at the next election.”