British Supreme Court says no to Scottish independence referendum

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Nov. 23 (UPI) — The British Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the Scottish government cannot hold an independence referendum, not even one that is non-binding unless it has the approval of Westminster.

The ruling, at least for now, has sidelined plans by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of holding such a referendum in October 2023. The British government has continued to deny formal approval to put a referendum in front of Scottish voters.

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The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a 1999 law denies Scotland’s Parliament from ruling on issues between it and Britain.

“… A referendum on the question, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ does relate to matters which have been reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom under the Scotland Act,” the court said in its ruling.

“In particular, it relates to the reserved matters of the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England and the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Accordingly, in the absence of any modification of the definition of reserved matters (by an Order in Council or otherwise), the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence.”

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While saying that “Scottish democracy will not be denied,” Sturgeon said she accepted the court decision.

“[The Supreme Court] doesn’t make law, only interprets it,” Sturgeon said on Twitter. “A law that doesn’t allow Scotland to choose our own future without Westminster consent exposes as myth any notion of the U.K. as a voluntary partnership and makes case for [independence].

“Today’s ruling blocks one route to Scotland’s voice being heard on independence — but in a democracy, our voice cannot and will not be silenced.”

Anas Sarwar, leader of the Scottish Labor Party, though, said Scotland would be better off solving the economic challenges currently facing the country and Britain instead of repeated independence referendums, calling the ruling “clear.”