UK Supreme Court blocks Scotland from holding second independence referendum

The UK’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that Scotland cannot hold a second independence referendum.

The UK Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision by all 5 judges, ruled that Scotland does not have the power to hold a new independence referendum without the permission of the UK Parliament.

The ruling comes as a setback to the Scottish Government’s campaign to break away from the UK, and comes six weeks after lawyers from the pro-independence Scottish Government and the UK’s Conservative Government presented their cases at hearings in London.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she will respect the ruling but continue the fight for independence, saying Scotland’s “democratic right to choose our own future” is at stake.

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Scottish flags are held by protesters outside the Supreme Court in London on Wednesday November 23, 2022.

Scottish flags are held by protesters outside the Supreme Court in London on Wednesday November 23, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

Shortly after the verdict, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he believed “the people of Scotland want us to work to tackle the great challenges that we face together”.

“We respect the clear and final decision of the UK Supreme Court,” Sunak added.

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The leader of the Scottish National Party and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon makes a statement at the Apex Grassmarket Hotel in Edinburgh on Wednesday 23 November 2022.

The leader of the Scottish National Party and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon makes a statement at the Apex Grassmarket Hotel in Edinburgh on Wednesday 23 November 2022.
(Jane Barlow/PA via AP)

The semi-autonomous Scottish government wants a referendum next October on the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

The UK government in London is refusing to authorize a vote, saying the issue was decided in a 2014 referendum in which Scottish voters rejected independence by a majority of 55% to 45%.

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Supporters of Scottish independence hold a banner outside the Supreme Court in London on Tuesday October 11, 2022.  The UK Supreme Court is due on Wednesday 23 November 2022 to rule on whether Scotland can vote on independence without the consent of the UK government, a case with huge implications for the future of the UK.

Supporters of Scottish independence hold a banner outside the Supreme Court in London on Tuesday October 11, 2022. The UK Supreme Court is due on Wednesday 23 November 2022 to rule on whether Scotland can vote on independence without the consent of the UK government, a case with huge implications for the future of the UK.
(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, file)

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 British government in London controls matters such as defense and fiscal policy.

Wednesday’s verdict cannot be appealed.

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The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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