June 19, 2024

Independent Scotland?  Question for the British High Court - Politics

Independent Scotland? Question for the British High Court – Politics

Two things to remember in particular about Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party (SNP) conference. First, the leader of the Scottish National Party said she hates the Conservative Party. The second, the leader of the Scottish National Party who refuses to be deterred from achieving Scottish independence. But now she will have to wait and see what the UK Supreme Court has to say on the matter.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, High Court judges will consider whether Scotland’s regional parliament has the power to call an independence referendum without the consent of the British central government. The Edinburgh Regional Government has asked the Court for a final clarification. “If Westminster had respect for Scottish democracy, this court session would not be necessary,” SNP leader Sturgeon said on Monday at the conclusion of the party’s conference in Aberdeen. “But Westminster does not have such respect,” the Scottish prime minister added.

In Westminster, British Prime Minister Liz Truss is convinced that central London should agree to a second referendum. This was also the case with the first referendum in 2014. At that time, the majority of the Scottish population voted to remain in the United Kingdom. From London’s point of view, the matter was settled. Truss’ predecessor, Boris Johnson, had vehemently rejected the second referendum, noting that Sturgeon himself had said the 2014 vote was unique (“once in a generation”).

Sturgeon does not dispute this statement, but is of the opinion that Brexit has fundamentally changed the working basis of union with Great Britain. She says that in the referendum to leave the European Union, the majority of the Scottish people voted for the United Kingdom to remain in society. That was in 2016, two years after the Scottish independence referendum.

Sturgeon has already given a date to vote: October 19, 2023

Sturgeon’s goal is to return an independent Scotland to the European Union. To achieve this, it announced a new referendum on October 19, 2023, subject to the decision of the Supreme Court. If the judges give the regional parliament the right to implement the so-called Indyref 2, that would greatly strengthen the independence advocates. If they reject power, Sturgeon wants the next UK general election to be held in 2024 as a de facto referendum.

There are also votes in the SNP advocating not to wait too long, but simply to schedule a vote. However, there will be a risk that Catalonia’s failed attempt will be repeated. The Spanish region held a referendum in 2017 even though the Spanish Constitutional Court made it unequivocally clear that such a referendum was illegal. The regional government did not care at the time. It simply passed by vote, which, however, was neither recognized by the central government in Madrid nor internationally.

As long as Sturgeon is the Scottish Prime Minister, there should be no repeat of this attempt in Scotland. Sturgeon is a lawyer and knows all too well the legal risks. No wonder she campaigned for the case to be taken to the UK Supreme Court. It is a legal question that, unless it is answered now by this court, is unlikely to ever be decided, said Dorothy Payne, head of legal affairs for the Scottish government.

The judges will thus hear the arguments of the Scottish regional government and the British central government for two days. Sturgeon said he was “optimistic” the Supreme Court would follow its legal position, which states that the decision on whether to hold an independence referendum falls within the jurisdiction of the Scottish regional parliament.

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A British government spokeswoman said the independence referendum bill would be outside the legislative jurisdiction of the Scottish Parliament. However, “the people of Scotland want their government to work together and focus on the issues that concern them and not talk about another independence referendum”.

A decision from the Supreme Court is expected within a few weeks. However, one thing is already certain: Were there to be another vote on Scottish independence, the outcome is not entirely certain.