Scottish independence: SNP publishes full submission to Supreme Court ahead of referendum legal battle

The SNP has published its full submission to the Supreme Court ahead of the upcoming legal battle over a second independence referendum.

The document sets out the party’s argument that a consultative ballot would not "of itself" have any effect on the Union or the UK Parliament.

It argues the right to self-determination is “fundamental and inalienable” and this should be taken into account when interpreting the relevant legislation.

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Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, Scotland’s top law officer, has referred a prospective referendum Bill to the UK Supreme Court to determine if it is within Holyrood’s powers.

Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty ImagesPicture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images
Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images

The legal arguments centre on differing interpretations of the Scotland Act 1998, which says matters relating to the Union are reserved to Westminster.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold a referendum in October next year, but the UK Government has refused to agree to this.

The SNP was previously denied permission to make “short oral submissions” during hearings scheduled for October 11 and 12.

However, the court allowed it to make written submissions “only limited to 20 pages and avoiding repetition of the Lord Advocate’s arguments”.

The SNP’s submission, written by lawyers Claire Mitchell QC and David Welsh on behalf of the party, argues the holding of a consultative referendum “does not result in a reduction in the scope of the powers of the UK Parliament and nor does it, of itself, have any effect on the Union”.

It adds: “Legislation to enable such a referendum does not, therefore, relate to the reservation of the Union nor to the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

"Holding such a referendum, however, represents the expression by a people of their right to self-determination which should not be interfered with except under the clearest and most extreme circumstances.”

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