London, Nov 23 (EFE).- The Scottish government cannot hold an independence referendum without the consent of the United Kingdom’s government, the UK’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
The ruling will come as a blow to the independence ambitions of Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon.
“While I am obviously very disappointed by it (the ruling), I do respect and accept the judgment of the court, in securing Scotland’s independence, we will always be guided by democracy and the respect for the rule of law,” Sturgeon said.
Sturgeon added that the court was not asked to deliberate on the democratic mandate to hold a referendum, which she said was “undeniable.”
The head of Scotland’s government said her Scottish National Party would hold a conference in the new year to plot its path to independence and added the next UK elections, due to be held no later than January 2025, would act as a de facto referendum.
“As is becoming clearer by the day, achieving independence is not now just desirable, it is essential if Scotland is to escape the disaster of Brexit, the damage of policies imposed by governments we do not vote for, and the low growth, high inequality economic model that is holding us back,” she told a press conference.
Her government brought the case to the court ahead of plans to legislate a referendum on October 19 next year, which argued it would have been “advisory.”
Supreme Court Lord Reed said in his ruling Wednesday that Scotland’s parliament did not have the powers to slate the poll without the green light from the UK government, which has so far refused to entertain granting permission for a second referendum in the UK’s northernmost country.
The UK government’s Scotland secretary, Conservative Party member, Alistair Jack, said: “We note and respect the unanimous ruling from the supreme court today.
“People in Scotland want both their governments to be concentrating all attention and resources on the issues that matter most to them. That’s why we are focused on issues like restoring economic stability, getting people the help they need with their energy bills, and supporting our NHS.”
A previous referendum in 2014, held with the agreement of the UK’s erstwhile prime minister David Cameron, saw Scots reject independence by a margin of 55% to 45%.
Scotland’s independence movement, which sits at the heart of Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party, was reawakened after Brexit, which Scots overwhelmingly opposed.