Supreme court rules against Scottish parliament holding new independence referendum

The Scottish parliament cannot hold a second independence referendum without Westminster approval, the supreme court has ruled, in a unanimous judgment likely to anger Scottish nationalists who say the country’s future is for Scottish voters to decide, The Guardian reports.

The first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said immediately after the ruling: “Scottish democracy will not be denied.” She added: “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.”

Sturgeon said she would be making a full statement later this morning.

The decision could lead to Sturgeon following through on her pledge to “put our case for independence to the people in an election”, turning it into a “de facto referendum”.

Delivering the categorical judgment on Wednesday morning, the UK supreme court president, Lord Reed, said the Scottish parliament did not have the power to legislate for a referendum on independence because such a bill would relate to the future of the union of the UK, a matter reserved to Westminster.

Reed also rejected arguments put by the SNP, which the court permitted to intervene in the proceedings, based on the Scottish parliament’s right to self-determination under international law.

He said that, in the absence of an agreement between the two governments, as happened in advance of the 2014 vote, the Scottish parliament did not have the power to legislate for a referendum.

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