UK dispatch: Supreme Court rules second Scottish independence referendum would need Westminster approval
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UK dispatch: Supreme Court rules second Scottish independence referendum would need Westminster approval

James Ekin is a UK staff correspondent for JURIST. 

The Scottish Parliament does not have the unilateral power to call a second independence referendum in the country, the UK Supreme Court said in a judgement published here Wednesday morning.

The unanimous ruling from the UK’s top judges said the Scottish government would need approval from the government in Westminster before going ahead, as a referendum on Scottish independence is a “reserved matter” outside the competence of the Scottish Parliament under the devolutionary Scotland Act (1998). The judgement entitled “Reference by the Lord Advocate of devolution issues under paragraph 34 of Schedule 6 to the Scotland Act 1998” was heard in front of justices Lord Reed, President Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Sales, Lord Stephens and Lady Rose on 11 and 12 October 2022. The Scottish National Party has been calling for a fresh vote after the narrow defeat of an initial London-authorized referendum measure in 2014.

In a statement on Twitter shortly after the judgement’s release, Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said: “While disappointed by it, I respect ruling of @UKSupremeCourt  it doesn’t make law, only interprets it. 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. Scottish democracy will not be denied. 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.”