Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?
No Scottish Independence Referendum without Westminster’s Consent UK Supreme Court Rules
The question whether Scotland should be independent or remain in the UK has been asked many times over centuries and is being asked very loudly again today. Here are some reasons why:
Scotland stayed independent after the English attempts to colonise it in the middle ages, but in 1603 the Scottish king James Stuart became king of Scotland and England when the childless Elizabeth I died. In spite of this, the two countries remained sovereign states until their parliaments were united into the Parliament of Great Britain, located in Westminster, London, in 1707.
In 1997 a referendum on devolvement (“outsourcing” some powers from the Parliament in Westminster to a regional Parliament) resulted in the reinstalling of a Scottish Parliament in 1999.
In 2014, a referendum was held on Scottish independence (55.3% No, 44.7% Yes) and since then the Scottish National Party, SNP, the strongest advocate for independence, has become the most powerful party in the Scottish parliament. This also resulted from the 2016 Brexit vote in Scotland, where 62% of the Scottish voted for “Remain” and 38% for “Leave”. So the SNP and others argue that Scotland has been taken out of the EU against its will. However, the UK government insisted that a new independence referendum would not be legal without Westminster’s consent, which it did not grant.
The final decision on whether the Scottish government is allowed to hold another referendum was reached by the UK Supreme Court on 23 November 2022. It has ruled that such a referendum would clearly affect all of the UK, i.e. its union, and thus the decision to call a referendum lies outside the devolved powers of the Scottish government. Meaning: no referendum without Westminster’s consent.
The Scottish government interprets this as proof that the Union is not voluntary. So it will be interesting, to say the least, to see what the Scottish government does next.
Sources & Further Reading:
Details on Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014:
(Potential) Implications of Scottish Independence:
Brexit Referendum Results by Nation:
Results of Scottish Elections in 2021:
The Supreme Court’s Verdict of 23 November 2022 (2.5 minutes):
First Scottish Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s Reaction to the Ruling:
and (from ca. minute 5)
“Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash: