Indyref2: Sturgeon's 'political manoeuvre' outlined by Lord Sumption

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Nicola Sturgeon is playing the blame game to keep her pro-independence electoral base, a former Supreme Court judge said. Scotland’s First Minister, who has pledged to honour the will of the Scottish people, has lost her battle in the Supreme Court after judges ruled a second referendum is a matter for Westminster to decide. Despite being “disappointed” by the ruling, the SNP leader is still moving forward with her promise in a move branded as “political”. 

Lord Sumption, a former Supreme Court judge, told BBC Radio 4: “This is a political manoeuvre. 

“It enables her to blame everyone other than herself for not having a referendum. 

“She’s had plenty of legal advice. It’s obvious that her own Lord Advocate, her top lawyer, has no confidence in her arguments. 

“And I think the explanation is perfectly simple: she doesn’t want a referendum at the moment because she couldn’t be sure of winning it.

“But she’s under pressure from her less realistic followers, and she would prefer to be stopped from having her referendum by Westminster than by her own innate caution.”

Nicola Sturgeon announced she and her SNP party would seek another legal route to hold a second independence referendum hours after losing her case in the Supreme Court.

The SNP leader confirmed she would take the battle for independence in the next General Election, calling it a de facto referendum on independence. An SNP victory would represent a vote to break up from the United Kingdom.

Nicola Sturgeon will set up a national executive committee to convene a special party conference in the new year to discuss and agree the details of a proposed de facto referendum. 

It is a big gamble because the SNP would need to win at least 51 percent of the votes in the next General Election to justify holding a referendum. The closer her SNP party has got to 51 percent was in 2019 when the nationalists won 36.9 percent of the votes.

In a speech shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling, Ms Sturgeon told reporters in Edinburgh: “The Supreme Court has interpreted a Westminster law that seems to say Scottish democracy on this question is blocked.

“I either give up on Scottish democracy or find another route.”

The SNP’s options appear limited as the Scotland Act states Holyrood needs a section 30 order from Westminster to have the power to draft a referendum bill and hold a vote north of the border.

The First Minister tweeted: “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 Indy.”

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The Supreme Court judges struck down Nicola Sturgeon’s reference, arguing a vote in Scotland and its effects would inevitably have “practical” as well as legal effects on the Union Kingdom and is therefore a reserved matter outside Holyrood’s scope. 

In a two-day hearing at the Supreme Court, the Scottish Government’s Lord Advocate said the SNP/Greens coalition would hold an “advisory” vote, which would have no legal effect on the union. But UK lawmakers pushed back against the claim, saying it was no secret a yes vote for independence would lead Scotland to exit the union.

At PMQs, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomed the “clear and definitive ruling” of the Supreme Court as he stressed the importance of “working together” with the Scottish government on a range of issues from the economy to the war in Ukraine.

Mr Sunak has no “imminent plans” to speak to the leaders of the devolved governments, and does not have “immediate” plans to visit Scotland, No 10 said.

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