UK ministers consider new law to 'wreck' indyref campaign

Senior UK Government ministers are reportedly considering introducing a Referendum Act which would require more than half of the entire Scottish electorate to vote for independence, rather than just a majority.

Nicola Sturgeon has branded the plans 'desperate'
Nicola Sturgeon has branded the plans 'desperate'

The Sunday Times reports that the UK government is planning to act in the event that the Supreme Court rules later this year that SNP plans to stage indyref2 without UK consent are unlawful.

The newspaper said the plan would require evidence for more than a year that at least 60 per cent of voters want a new referendum on independence before the UK Government would even consider it.

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And then if the referendum did take place, at least half of all of Scotland’s electorate would need to vote to leave the union – rather than a majority of more than 50 per cent of those who voted, which was the case with the 2014 independence referendum and the 2016 Brexit vote.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon branded the idea as “desperate” and the work of people who “fear losing”.

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Tweeting on Saturday night, Ms Sturgeon said: “Only those who fear losing feel the need to change the democratic goalposts.

“This desperate suggestion is proof positive that the independence arguments are winning.”

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In 2014, 85 per cent of the Scottish electorate voted – a record turnout for the UK – and when the ballots were counted it emerged that 55 per cent backed remaining part of the union.

Ms Sturgeon has already made clear her determination hold a second vote on independence in October 2023, but to do so she needs the UK Supreme Court to rule such a vote can be held without the consent of Westminster.

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If she cannot hold a referendum next year, the SNP leader has vowed to make the next Westminster election a “de facto referendum” on independence.