Referendum right

Struan Stevenson MEP (Letters, 5 July) and David Maddox (Perspective, same day) require a response (5 July). The MPs at Westminster and Mr Stevenson in Europe appear not to know that but for the Treaty of Union 1707 they’d be out of a job. There is a fundamental issue behind Struan Stevenson’s letter and those MPs mentioned in David Maddox’s piece. Both overlook the sovereign rights of the people of Scotland – something MPs and MEPs do at their peril.

Without the authority of the people, our elected members have no authority except that which we afford them. In Scotland, sovereignty resides with the people; it is right and proper that we understand what this means.

Sovereignty is the supreme and unrestricted legitimate authority independent of any outside influence. The people of Scotland alone hold the inalienable right to hold a referendum. In Scotland the people are the supreme constitutional authority over monarch and parliament.

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The single and ultimate source of all parliamentary and governmental power is the people, represented by a qualified and registered electorate.

That sovereign will takes precedence over any other concept, form or notion of outside authority or influence, including the subordinate authorities, government, parliament, judiciary or head of state. The legitimacy of Scotland’s right to decide its own constitutional position is unchallengeable. In 1953 the then Lord President of the Court of Session, Scotland’s Chief Judge, Lord Cooper, pronouncing in the case of McCormick vs Lord Advocate, held that “the unlimited sovereignty of parliament is a distinctively English principle which has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law”.

Indeed, under the terms of the Union Treaty of 1707, Scotland’s law lords retain the right to overturn any act of the Union parliament which is perceived to be not in the best interests of the people of Scotland. The fact that Scotland’s law lords have never exercised this right on behalf of the people of Scotland changes nothing. The right exists.

This means the people of Scotland do not require an authority they already possess within their sovereign rights to hold and specify a constitutional referendum without any interference from Westminster or indeed from Europe; neither has dominion over the People of Scotland.

Mr Struan Stevenson MEP and MPs at Westminster should get to grips with the Treaty of Union 1707 before they make any further prognostications on our forthcoming referendum.

John J G McGil

Wallace View

Riccarton, Kilmarnock

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