Scottish independence RECAP: Rishi Sunak will “look to” avoid Indyref2 as Downing Street veto de facto referendum post Supreme Court ruling
The SNP is not abandoning the independence route, “Westminster is blocking it”, the First Minister claimed as she said the Scottish Government will find a new way to hold a referendum.
The UK Government does not agree with Nicola Sturgeon’s proposal to use the next election as a de facto referendum, Downing Street has said.
Asked whether the Prime Minister agreed with the plan, his press secretary told reporters: “I don’t think that is the position of the UK Government.
“The Supreme Court’s decision today has been very clear.”
Announcing the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision, the court’s president Lord Reed said that legislation for a second independence referendum would relate to “reserved matters” and was therefore outside the powers of Holyrood.
He said: “A lawfully-held referendum would have important political consequences relation to the Union 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.”
On Wednesday morning, the panel of five justices will delivered their verdict, in the wake of hearing arguments on behalf of both the UK and Scottish governments last month.
The Scottish Government’s top law officer, the Lord Advocate, asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether Holyrood has competence to legislate for the vote.
During a two-day hearing in October, Dorothy Bain KC said resolving the legality of the proposed Scottish Independence Referendum Bill is a “critically important question”
The UK Government’s representative, Sir James Eadie KC, argued the Bill “squarely and directly” relates to a matter reserved to Westminster.
Nicola Sturgeon to make statement in response to Supreme Court ruling
Rishi Sunak will “look to” avoid another Scottish independence referendum while he is Prime Minister, Downing Street said.
Asked whether he could rule out another vote while he is in office, his press secretary told reporters: “I think that would be something that we would look to do.”
She stressed there has been a “once-in-a-generation referendum not too long ago and that result should be respected”.
Mr Sunak has no “imminent plans” to speak to the leaders of the devolved governments, and does not have “immediate” plans to visit Scotland, No 10 said.
Good morning and welcome to our live blog which will be running throughout a massive day in UK politics.
The UK’s highest court is set to deliver its judgment on whether the Scottish Parliament can legislate for a second independence referendum.
Judges at the UK Supreme Court are set to hand down their judgement on whether the Scottish Parliament can legislate for a second referendum on independence.
During a two-day hearing in October, Dorothy Bain KC said resolving the legality of the proposed Scottish Independence Referendum Bill is a “critically important question”.
She said she would not be able to “clear” the introduction of the Bill herself without the court’s ruling.
Ms Bain said the issue had been “festering” since the early days of devolution.
The UK Government’s representative, Sir James Eadie KC, argued the Bill “squarely and directly” relates to a matter reserved to Westminster – the union between Scotland and England.
What is today all about exactly?
The Scottish Government has said that, should a referendum be within the gift of the Scottish Parliament, a Bill will be introduced and likely passed given the deal between the SNP and Scottish Greens.
Barring any issues, a vote would be held on October 19 next year.
Legal expert Dr Andrew Tickell said the UK Government and other opponents of separation would not be powerless to stop another vote.
“Even if the Scottish Government win this and have the opportunity to pass a piece of legislation through Holyrood, this isn’t the end of the story,” he told the PA news agency.
“Are (the UK Government) going to block it using their Commons majority? They could do that as a matter of law.”
Dr Tickell added that the possibility of a boycott by opposition parties to any referendum would “create a whole range of interesting implications”.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has been the main proponent of such a strategy, but its use would cause issues for Scottish Labour.
The most likely scenario?
One of the more interesting possibilities would
be if the court decides not to rule on the referral because the Bill has not been passed by Holyrood – a key plank of the UK Government’s argument against the referral.
In such a situation, a number of different possibilities open up to the Scottish Government.
Constitutional law Professor Adam Tomkins, who served as a Tory MSP in the last parliament, said he viewed this option as the most likely.
“The Scotland Act provides for a system of referring the legislative competence of Bills passed by the Scottish Parliament to the Supreme Court after they have been enacted,” he told the PA news agency.
“In this instance, not only has the Bill not been enacted, it hasn’t even been formally introduced into the Scottish Parliament – it hasn’t been debated by the Scottish Parliament, it hasn’t been amended by the Scottish Parliament, we haven’t had stage one or stage two or stage three.”
Prof Tomkins said the Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain KC, was asking the court to rule on “a hypothetical”.
In the submission to the Court, Ms Bain said she was making the referral under paragraph 34 of schedule six of the Scotland Act, which says: “The Lord Advocate, the Attorney General, the Advocate General or the Advocate General for Northern Ireland may refer to the Supreme Court any devolution issue which is not the subject of proceedings.”