In 2014, many Scots rejected ending the more-than 300-year-old union with England in a vote. But independence supporters want to hold a fresh referendum after Brexit.
The UK Supreme Court has ruled that Scotland does not have the power to hold a new referendum on independence without the consent of the British government.
The judgment, announced on Wednesday, is a setback for the Scottish government’s campaign to break away from the United Kingdom.
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 defense and fiscal policy
The top court ruled that the Scottish Parliament “does not have the power to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence."
Supreme Court President Robert Reed said the five justices were unanimous in the verdict, delivered six weeks after lawyers for the pro-independence Scottish administration and the Conservative UK government argued their cases at hearings in London.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was disappointed but would “respect" the judgment.
But, she said on Twitter: "A law that doesn’t allow Scotland to choose our own future without Westminster consent exposes as myth any notion of the UK as a voluntary partnership & makes case for (independence).”
2/ Scottish democracy will not be denied.— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) November 23, 2022
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.
I'll make a full statement later this morning - tune in around 11.30am
Independence supporters plan to rally outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and at other sites later Wednesday.
The semi-autonomous Scottish government wants to hold a referendum next October with the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
The UK government in London refuses to approve a vote, saying the question was settled in a 2014 referendum that saw Scottish voters reject independence by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent.
The pro-independence government in Edinburgh wants to revisit the decision, arguing that Britain’s departure from the European Union — which a majority of Scottish voters opposed — has radically changed the political and economic landscape.