Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to make the next election a referendum on Scottish independence after the UK’s Supreme Court ruled against the SNP’s bid for a ballot in 2023.
Scotland’s first minister Sturgeon said she respected the unanimous judgment but called it a “tough pill to swallow”.
The Supreme Court ruled Sturgeon does not have the power to call a referendum which can only be decided by Westminster. The first minister said there would be a “real sense of frustration today in both the SNP and in the wider movement.”
Sturgeon tweeted: “A law that doesn’t allow Scotland to choose our own future without Westminster consent exposes as myth any notion of the UK as a voluntary partnership & makes case for Indy [independence]”.
This though would be “short-lived” said Sturgeon adding that pro-independence rallies held in towns and cities across Scotland on Wednesday evening (Nov 23) would show the “strength” of the campaign.
Using the next general election as a “de-facto” Scottish independence referendum is the most “obvious alternative”, Sturgeon said, arguing a majority would be a mandate to force another vote.
The SNP has pointed to their consistent electoral success since as a clear mandate for a second referendum. Sturgeon said it is “outright democracy denial” not to do so.
In the pre-Brexit referendum in 2014, Scotland was warned its future in the European Union would be jeopardised if it voted for independence from the UK. The final vote recorded 55% to stay in the UK against 45% in favour of Scotland’s independence.
The UK government has long refused to grant formal consent for a second referendum, even after Sturgeon laid out her plans for IndyRef 2 to be held on October 19 next year. The impasse ended up in the courts and today’s ruling the first minister does not have the constitutional power to hold a referendum that could break up the UK.
Scotland is not “abandoning” the route to an independence referendum said Sturgeon after today’s ruling, “Westminster are simply blocking it.”
Prime minister Rishi Sunak said he welcomed the “clear and definitive ruling from the Supreme Court” and told MPs at PMQs: “The people of Scotland want us to be working on fixing the major challenges that we collectively face, whether that’s the economy, supporting the NHS or indeed supporting Ukraine.
“Now is the time for politicians to work together and that’s what this government will do.”
Sir Keir Starmer is also against an independence referendum and today ruled out doing a deal with the SNP. Starmer rejected any possibility of allowing a referendum in return for SNP support after the next election them.
“We have said there will be no deals going into the election, no deals coming out of the election,” Starmer’s official spokesperson said. “We will not be doing any deals with a party that wants to break up the United Kingdom. That is not our position.”