Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is stepping up pressure on the government as she seeks a second independence referendum. After the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) fourth consecutive victory in the Holyrood elections, in which the party had only one seat in less than a majority, she warned the Prime Minister that Scotland would get a second referendum on independence. She said on Sunday: ‘Given the outcome of this election, there is simply no democratic justification for Boris Johnson or anyone else seeking to block the right of the Scottish people to choose our future.
“If the Conservatives make such an attempt, it will conclusively demonstrate that the UK is not a partnership of equals and that – surprisingly – Westminster no longer sees the UK as a voluntary union of nations. This in itself would be a most powerful argument for Scotland to become an independent country. “
Ms Sturgeon is aiming to bring Scotland back to the EU, but Mr Johnson may well stand in the way, according to an expert.
Marc Weller, professor of international law and international constitutional studies at the University of Cambridge, has warned that Scotland cannot return to the bloc without London’s agreement.
He stressed that the blocking of Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain from Kosovo’s long-standing candidacy to join the EU was a sign of a potential obstacle.
Professor Weller, who was legal adviser on the Kosovo peace process and was a senior United Nations mediation expert, added: “The full agreement of both sides, Edinburgh and London, on the process leading up to the independence would be essential. ”
The expert said the EU would not accept an independence referendum that was not “consensual”.
He told The Times: “Yes, Scotland could perhaps force a referendum against the will of the British government, or hold an advisory ballot instead.
“However, Holyrood could not achieve independence with guaranteed EU membership if the process leading to independence appears to be anything but fully consensual.”
Despite this, he also encouraged supporters of independence, saying the British government could not refuse a vote “indefinitely”.
Professor Weller raised the possibility that international courts could be involved in any dispute, adding that Scotland’s right to leave the Union had been “informally established in UK constitutional practice” after the 2014 referendum.
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In August last year, Professor Aileen McHarg, an expert on public law, told Express.co.uk that Westminster could use a controversial plan to thwart Ms Sturgeon’s efforts to hold a referendum.
The Scottish government is trying to use a section 30 order to try to get the powers to hold a vote.
Professor McHarg pointed out how Mr Johnson could take an approach similar to that used by the government in the Scottish Continuity Bill of 2018 – sending Ms Sturgeon’s attempt to gain powers to hold a referendum to the Supreme Court.
The bill sought to empower Scottish ministers to make amendments to bring Scottish law into line with EU law after the end of the Brexit transition period.
Professor McHarg continued: “Assuming a referendum bill is passed by parliament, then there is a four week period in which British and Scottish judicial officers have the option of sending it to the Supreme Court. so that it decides on its competence or not.
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“It happened with the Scottish Continuity Bill, the UK government sent the bill back to the Supreme Court which meant it couldn’t get Royal Assent and be enforced.
“It took several months for the Supreme Court to hear the case, and in the meantime the Withdrawal from the EU Act was passed, which reduced the legislative powers of the Scottish Government.
“There is a risk that the UK government will send a referendum bill back to the Supreme Court and pass legislation making it clear that Holyrood cannot hold an independence referendum.
“There is no legal obstacle preventing the UK government from attempting to do so. Whether or not this is a justifiable course of action would of course be a matter of controversy. I imagine many people would consider it illegitimate. . “
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This notice was published: 2021-05-11 17:38:00