Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addresses a news conference on the release of a second independence paper at Bute House July 14, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
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LONDON – The UK Supreme Court told the Scottish government on Wednesday it cannot hold a new independence referendum without the UK government’s approval.
Supreme Court President Lord Reed said in a broadcast remark that the Scottish Parliament had no power to legislate on matters reserved for the UK Parliament, including trade unions.
A referendum was held in September 2014 in which Scotland voted 55% to 45% to remain in the UK.
The pro-independence Scottish National Party became a major political force when it won a majority in the Scottish Parliament in the 2011 general election.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who has been Scotland’s first minister since November 2014, said her party was elected with a “clear promise to give the Scottish people the choice of independence”.
Sturgeon said in tweets after the decision: “While I’m disappointed in this, I respect the judgment of @UKSupremeCourt – it doesn’t make law, just interprets it. A law that doesn’t allow Scotland to choose our own future without Westminster’s consent debunks any notion of Britain as a voluntary partnership and speaks for Indy as a myth [independence].”
“Scottish democracy is not denied. Today’s verdict blocks a path to hearing Scotland’s voice for independence – but in a democracy our voice cannot and will not be silenced.”
In an August tweet during an election rally in Scotland, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote: “There is nothing more conservative than our precious union and all the great things we have achieved we have achieved as a family.”
Sturgeon received authorization from the Scottish Parliament to hold another referendum in 2017 after the terms of a Brexit deal became clear, but this was blocked by then British Prime Minister Theresa May.
The SNP currently holds a majority of 64 seats out of 129 in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, with the remaining seats split between the Scottish Conservative & Unionist, Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat parties; and holds 44 of the 650 seats in the UK Parliament in Westminster.
Since the Brexit vote in 2016, one of their key arguments has been that Scotland voted 62% to 38% to remain in the European Union. Sturgeon said her party would immediately seek to rejoin the bloc with Scotland as an independent country, although questions remain on issues such as trade and free movement and whether joining the euro would be a criterion for entry.
Last month the party published an economic prospectus arguing that post-independence Scotland’s economy would be “stronger and fairer”.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken out against a second independence referendum.