Nicola Sturgeon has said she “accepts” today’s decision from the Supreme Court to block another independence referendum without Westminster’s consent, but that “democracy won’t be denied”.
The Scottish First Minister said the decision only “blocks one route to Scotland’s voice being heard on independence” and that the next General Election, due by the start of 2025, will be a “defacto referendum”.
The court ruled that another independence referendum would have “important political consequences relating to the union” and that the UK’s central government must be involved in that process.
Sturgeon wanted to hold a second independence vote on 19 October next year, however the UK government has been clear that it will not grant another vote.
The Scottish government took the UK government to court over the impasse, with Supreme Court President Lord Robert Reed revealing the court’s decision today.
“A lawfully held referendum would have important political consequences relating to the union and the United Kingdom Parliament,” he said.
“Its outcome would possess the authority, in a constitution and political culture founded upon democracy, of a democratic expression of the view of the Scottish electorate.”
Sturgeon told a press conference in Edinburgh today that “we will find another democratic, lawful and constitutional means by which the Scottish people can express their will”.
“In my view that can only be an election. The next national election scheduled for Scotland is of course the UK General Election, making that both the first and the most obvious opportunity to seek what I described back in June as a de facto referendum,” she said.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he respects the “clear and definitive ruling of the Supreme Court”, while calling for the Scottish National Party (SNP) to work “on fixing the major challenges that we collectively face”.
Scottish polling shows that opinions are split on the issue of independence, however the majority of polls over the past year show people in favour of staying in the union.
SNP leaders argue that the party’s dominance in Scottish elections shows that it has a mandate for another referendum, after the 2014 vote rejected independence.