Supreme Court to hold hearing on Scottish independence referendum after rejecting UK Government request

The Supreme Court is to hold a hearing after Nicola Sturgeon asked it to rule on the legality of her plans for a second independence referendum.

It comes after the court rejected a bid by the UK Government to have the case thrown out before this took place.

The First Minister recently asked the court to determine whether a vote can be held without Westminster's consent.

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Nicola Sturgeon previously referred her indyref2 bill to the Supreme Court

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But the UK Government argues this would be "premature" as the relevant legislation has not passed through the Scottish Parliament.

It believes a Bill legislating for an independence referendum is outwith Holyrood's legislative competence.

Lawyers for the UK Government had asked the Supreme Court to require both parties “to file written cases restricted to the question whether the court can or should accept the reference”.

This was refused, with the court explaining: “There are two issues for the court to consider: first, whether the court can or should accept the reference and, second, if so, how it should answer the question the Lord Advocate [Scotland’s most senior law officer] has referred to it.

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"To answer these questions, the court will need to consider the circumstances giving rise to the reference and the substance of the Lord Advocate’s question.

"The court therefore decided that it should hear argument on both issues at a single hearing in the interests of justice and the efficient disposal of the proceedings.”

The Scottish and UK governments have been told to submit papers setting out their cases by August 9.

A UK Government spokeswoman said: "We appreciate the Supreme Court dealing with our application quickly.

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"We will proceed to prepare our written case on the preliminary points we have noted, and on the substantive issue, to the timetable set out by the court.

"On the question of legislative competence, the UK Government's clear view remains that a Bill legislating for a referendum on independence would be outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Whether the reference is accepted, how long it takes to determine, which matters the court considers and when and what judgment is arrived at are all for the court to determine.

"The reference is now before the Supreme Court and the court should be allowed to fulfil its function.”

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