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First Minister of Scotland: We Will Find Another Lawful Way to Express Will of Scots
By Staff, Agencies
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon committed to running the next general election as a “de facto referendum” on Scottish independence, after the UK supreme court ruled unanimously that her government could not legislate for another vote without Westminster approval.
At a news conference held hours after the judgment, Sturgeon said: “Today’s ruling blocks one route to Scotland’s voice being heard on independence … We must and 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.”
Downing Street immediately rejected the SNP’s proposal, while senior Westminster Tories said the prime minister’s strategy now was to simply avoid the issue of another independence referendum altogether.
One Tory insider said: “Rishi [Sunak, the prime minister] will just sit on his hands and do nothing. That’s the best approach now.”
The supreme court ruled that in the absence of an agreement between the two governments, as happened in advance of the 2014 independence vote, the Scottish parliament did not have the power to legislate for a referendum.
Sturgeon told reporters that she respected the ruling but accused Westminster of showing “contempt” for Scotland’s democratic will, a view echoed by pro-independence supporters gathered for rallies outside the Holyrood parliament and across the country on Wednesday evening.
Four consecutive prime ministers have refused Sturgeon’s requests to grant her a section 30 order, the section of the 1998 Scotland Act – the legislation establishing the Scottish parliament – that allows Holyrood to pass laws in areas that are normally reserved for Westminster, such as the union.
The question was referred to the court by Scotland’s lord advocate, Dorothy Bain KC, at Sturgeon’s request after the latter confounded critics in June by announcing her preferred date for another referendum as 19 October 2023.
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