Nicola Sturgeon refuses to rule out court challenge if second referendum blocked by Westminster

A court challenge could be the way for the SNP to ensure a second referendum is heldA court challenge could be the way for the SNP to ensure a second referendum is held
A court challenge could be the way for the SNP to ensure a second referendum is held
The SNP could challenge the decision to refuse permission for a second referendum by the UK Government through the courts, Nicola Sturgeon has reiterated.

The First Minister, speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, said she will not rule out a potential legal challenge in order to secure a second referendum.

She added the SNP’s manifesto is likely to outline the preferred date for a referendum and said that however much internal critics want to believe there are shortcuts such as an advisory vote, a legal referendum is the only route to independence.

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More than a dozen consecutive opinion polls have indicated Scotland’s voters now being in favour of independence despite voting down the idea in 2014, with support also high for the SNP ahead of the next Holyrood election in May 2021.

Asked by the BBC if she would hold an advisory poll without the consent of the Westminster, she said this is not something that had been tested by the courts, but insisted any referendum must be legal.

She said: “I am absolutely clear that any referendum has to be legal because if it is not legal then we won’t win the authority that we need to make Scotland independent, I’ve always been clear about that.

“The point I made earlier on is that this issue of whether that needs Westminster consent – which we’ve always as a matter of fact in the past accepted that’s the best way of doing things – that’s never actually been tested in court.

“If we all agree to abide by the democratic will of the Scottish people there’s no reason why it should have to be tested in court, let’s allow democracy to be the decider here.

“Scotland won’t become independent if people don’t want to be independent, the polls suggest it is now the majority view in Scotland but I don’t take anything for granted and of course I’ll only get the authority from the Scottish people to have a referendum if we win the election next May.

“At every step of the way here, it’s democracy that we should trust to guide us.”

Denying she was “out of touch" with parts of the SNP who want a debate on a ‘Plan B’ if the UK Government reject a second referendum, Ms Sturgeon pointed to the resolution passed overwhelmingly at her party’s conference yesterday in favour of her approach.

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“I think all of the evidence would suggest otherwise,” she added.

Echoing comments from senior SNP figures including Westminster leader Ian Blackford, high profile MP Joanna Cherry and constitution secretary Michael Russell, the First Minister likened a situation where Westminster rejected a second referendum to Donald Trump’s rejection of the US election results.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Democracy is what we need to put our faith in here.

"Boris Johnson – his pal across the Atlantic Donald Trump – he is showing right now what happens to leaders who try to stem the tide of democracy, they get swept away.

"My message to my party is lets continue make the case for independence, make the case for the people to decide and have faith in the power of people to bring about democratic change.”

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