Court: Sturgeon Can't Call Scottish Independence Vote

Leader says she'll make the next general election a proxy
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2022 4:30 PM CST
Court: Sturgeon Can't Call Scottish Independence Vote
SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon speaks Wednesday in Edinburgh.   (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)

Scotland is not allowed to hold another referendum on independence unless the UK government agrees, the British Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak opposes the idea. Nevertheless, Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon, who wanted a vote next October, said she respects the ruling—though she's not giving up, the BBC reports. "We must and we will find another democratic, lawful means for Scottish people to express their will," Sturgeon said in a news conference. She called the judges' decision "a hard pill for any supporter of independence, and surely indeed for any supporter of democracy, to swallow."

In 2014, the UK government temporarily transferred authority to Scotland's parliament to allow a referendum on independence. Voters backed staying in the UK by 10 percentage points. Now, polls show Scotland pretty evenly split on the issue. The Scottish Labor leader said voters don't lean either way, though Anas Sarwar said there's a "majority in Scotland and across the UK for change." Sunak called the ruling "clear and definitive," and a spokesperson said the prime minister will try to prevent another referendum. Sturgeon said she'll treat the next general election, due to be held by January 2025, as a proxy referendum on independence, per CNN.

After the ruling was announced, 15 rallies in the country were held, one outside Scotland's parliament, as well as a half-dozen in Europe. They included bagpipers and speakers, per the Guardian. One retiree rallying said the ruling could help the independence movement, which had "perhaps become a bit complacent" lately. Supporters are energized now, Jim Brack said, adding that the court "has highlighted we don’t have free will." Debate over independence intensified after Scotland's futile vote against Brexit. (Read more Scotland independence stories.)

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