Scotland’s Court of Session dismissed a case Friday suggesting that Scotland could hold another independence referendum without the approval of the UK.
The case, brought by Martin Keatings, a staunch advocate for Scottish independence, was a long-shot effort to overturn the 2014 referendum, when Scots voted to stay in the UK by a 55-percent majority.
Judge Ailsa Carmichael rejected Keatings’ arguments as “hypothetical, academic, and premature.” In this case, Keatings requested a declaratory judgment approving a Scottish plebiscite without permission from the UK. But there is no draft bill in the works actually suggesting such a referendum. As such, Carmichael found the issues raised to be premature, while also stating that Keatings lacked standing to bring this case.
But Carmichael did not rule on any substantive legal issues raised by the case, suggesting that it would be more appropriate to pass judgment on such a hypothetical referendum after the Scottish Parliament passes it.
Keatings has indicated that he will appeal the decision, tweeting that he intends to take the case to the Inner House of the Court of Session, which serves as a court of appeal.
Scottish independence has been a major issue facing the UK and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, especially now that the UK has exited the EU. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Scottish nationalists believe there may be increased support for independence. But Boris Johnson has rejected suggestions of hosting another referendum such as the one in 2014.
If Keatings’ case wins upon appeal, the ruling would represent a massive legal victory for the Scottish independence movement.