LONDON (AP) – The leader of the Scottish government said yesterday that she will push on with her campaign to take Scotland out of the United Kingdom (UK), even if she loses a Supreme Court case seeking authorisation to call a new independence referendum.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold a referendum in October 2023, but the Conservative UK government in London has said no.
Britain’s top court is due to hear arguments starting tomorrow on whether Scotland’s semi-autonomous administration can organise an independence vote without the London government’s consent.
Sturgeon, who leads the Scottish National Party, said that if her Edinburgh-based government loses the court case, she will make the next UK national election a de facto plebiscite on ending Scotland’s three-century-old union with England. She did not give details of how that would work.
A vote held without the approval of the UK government would not be legally binding.
Sturgeon said that if the courts blocked a referendum, “we put our case to people in an election or we give up on Scottish democracy”.
Scotland and England have been politically united since 1707. Scotland has had its own Parliament and government since 1999 and makes its own policies on public health, education and other matters. The UK-wide government in London controls matters such as defence and fiscal policy.
Scottish voters rejected independence by a margin of 55 per cent to 45 per cent in a 2014 referendum that was billed as a once-in-a-generation choice. Sturgeon’s government argues that Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU) and the coronavirus pandemic have upended politics and the economy and that it’s time to revisit the case for independence.