Court to rule on timing of Scottish independence vote
Scotland’s Supreme Court will hear arguments this week on whether to allow a second independence referendum next October. While opponents say there’s no appetite for another vote, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insists she’ll take Scotland out of the UK one way or another.
Sturgeon announced in June that a referendum would be held on October 19, 2023. While Scottish voters rejected a 2014 independence referendum by 55-44%, Sturgeon argued that the 2016 Brexit vote – which was opposed by a majority of Scots – and the election this summer of a majority of pro-Independence candidates to Scotland’s semi-autonomous parliament meant that a second crack at leaving the UK was needed.
However, even if the court rules in favor of holding a second referendum, its result will not be legally binding without permission from Prime Minister Liz Truss or post-facto recognition by the UK Parliament in London, neither of which is likely to happen.
Should the court rule against a referendum, Sturgeon told the BBC on Sunday that her Scottish National Party would run in the 2024 UK-wide election on the sole issue of independence, making the election a “de-facto” referendum.
“We put our case to the people in an election or we give up on Scottish democracy,” she told the British broadcaster. “It should be a last resort,” she continued, adding: “I don’t want to be in that position. I want to have a lawful referendum.”
If a referendum were held today, the latest polls by The Times and The Scotsman show voters rejecting independence by 45%-43% and 51%-49% respectively. Furthermore, only 35% of Scottish voters want a referendum to be held next year, while 53% oppose Sturgeon’s planned vote, according to a survey published in the Daily Record on Thursday.
“Nicola Sturgeon is deluding herself – and seeking to delude the Scottish people – when she says there is an appetite for another divisive referendum on her timescale,” Scottish Conservative Party lawmaker Donald Cameron told the BBC. “The majority of Scots… are resolutely opposed to the First Minister’s self-serving push for a vote next year.”