Nicola Sturgeon’s party sought to intervene in the case before the UK Supreme Court, which resulted from a referral by Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC, in August. The Supreme Court announced today (September 7) the SNP’s representatives would be able to make a submission of no more than 20 pages, provided they do not repeat the Lord Advocate’s arguments.
The submission must be filed by September 21 and the Lord Advocate and Advocate General for Scotland – representing the interests of the UK Government in the case – will have two weeks to respond.
Oral arguments in the case are due to be heard on October 11 and 12. A date for a final decision has not yet been announced.
The Lord Advocate referred a prospective independence referendum Bill to the Court in July, with her argument leaning heavily on the fact any referendum would not be self-executing, but merely “consultative”.
This means, in the event of a majority of Scots saying they would want to leave the union, Scotland would not immediately become independent, but the referendum could serve as the basis for independence negotiations.
“This crisis is much worse in the UK than in other developed countries because of a Brexit that Scotland voted against but was powerless to stop.”
Scottish voters rejected independence in 2014, but the SNP says Brrexit, which was opposed by a majority of Scots, means the question must be put to a second vote.
Pro-independence parties won a majority in Scottish parliamentary elections last year. Ms Sturgeon says this gives the Holyrood a mandate to hold a new independence vote.
The UK Government has refused consent for a new referendum, saying the matter was settled in 2014 and there are bigger priorities people in Scotland want their leaders to focus on.
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Meanwhile, the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said a General Election should be held sooner rather than later after Liz Truss entered Downing Street.
Mr Blackford said a General Election should be held because Ms Truss appeared to be making proposals which were not in the Conservative Party’s 2019 election manifesto.
He added it would also give people north of the border the opportunity to give their view on whether Scotland should be an independent country.
Asked whether he would like to see a General Election sooner rather than later, Mr Blackford told the BBC: “Very much so, and for the very simple reason that what Liz Truss now seems to be proposing was not in the Tory manifesto in the 2019 election.
“First and foremost, let’s put the support in place that families, that businesses, need. Let’s get that done and the right thing to do is then to put this to the people, to have that general election and let the people in Scotland express their opinion, and I think crucially their opinion as to whether or not Scotland should be an independent country.”
Ms Truss is opposed to the Scottish Government’s plans to hold a second independence referendum next year.
Asked whether he would treat a snap election as a de facto referendum, Mr Blackford said if a referendum is not possible then a de facto decision in a General Election is the “default position”.
Ms Sturgeon has said of the Supreme Court rules against the Scottish Government, she will treat the next General Election as a “de facto referendum”.
Mr Blackford told the BBC: “First and foremost we’ve got the hearing in front of the Supreme Court that’s to take place in October, I cannot see that we’re going to have an election before that anyway so let’s wait and see what happens.
“If we win that case at the Supreme Court then that means that we have a referendum in October 2023 and that’s what we should be focused on.
“Of course if we can’t, for whatever reason, achieve that then having that de facto decision taken by the people in a general election becomes the default position.”