Nicola Sturgeon claimed Scotland’s voice is being ignored and stepped up her calls for indyref2 after the Supreme Court ruled Holyrood should not get a say on triggering EU withdrawal.
The First Minister reacted angrily to the court’s rejection of the Scottish Government’s arguments that the Article 50 process should require the formal approval of the UK’s devolved administrations.
“It is becoming clearer by the day that Scotland’s voice is simply not being heard or listened to within the UK,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“The claims about Scotland being an equal partner are being exposed as nothing more than empty rhetoric and the very foundations of the devolution settlement that are supposed to protect our interests – such as the statutory embedding of the Sewel Convention – are being shown to be worthless.
“This raises fundamental issues above and beyond that of EU membership. Is Scotland content for our future to be dictated by an increasingly right-wing Westminster Government with just one MP here – or is better that we take our future into our own hands?
“It is becoming ever clearer that this is a choice Scotland must make.”
The 11 justices of the Supreme Court ruled MPs must be given a vote before the Government can trigger Article 50, it unanimously ruled the assemblies in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast do not need to give their formal approval with a vote.
The Scottish Government had based its legal argument on the Sewel Convention, which states that the Scottish Parliament should be consulted when Westminster legislates on devolved matters.
But Lord Neuberger said that “relations with the EU are a matter for the UK government” and confirmed that the Sewel Convention had no legal weight.
“The Sewel Convention plays an important part in the operation of the UK constitution, but the policing of its scope and its operation is not a matter for the courts,” he said.
Ms Sturgeon said she welcomed the fact that Article 50 cannot be triggered without an Act of Parliament.
But she criticised the UK Government for attempting to bypass MPs, adding it was “a damning indictment” that it believed it could “press on towards a hard Brexit with no regard to Parliament whatsoever”.
The First Minister added: “We are obviously disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling in respect of the devolved administrations and the legal enforceability of the Sewel Convention.
“It is now crystal clear that the promises made to Scotland by the UK Government about the Sewel Convention and the importance of embedding it in statute were not worth the paper they were written on.”
Despite the ruling, Ms Sturgeon pledged that the Scottish Parliament would have a votye on triggering Article 50.
“Although the court has concluded that the UK Government is not legally obliged to consult the devolved administrations, there remains a clear political obligation to do so. Indeed, the court itself notes the importance of Sewel as a political convention.
“The Scottish Government will bring forward a Legislative Consent Motion and ensure that the Scottish Parliament has the opportunity to vote on whether or not it consents to the triggering of Article 50.
“We will also use the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee next week to continue to press for the sensible, compromise outcomes set out in the paper we published in December.”