Court ruling could ‘torpedo’ Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for second Scottish independence referendum

Scottish government overstepped powers, says Supreme Court, as two bills passed by MSPs incompatible with Act underpinning devolution in article by Simon Johnson, Scottish Political Editor for the Telegraph dated 6 October 2021


Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold a second vote on Scottish independence by 2023

A Supreme Court ruling that Nicola Sturgeon's government exceeded its powers could "torpedo" her plans to organise an independence referendum without Westminster's consent, legal experts have said.


Five senior judges including Lord Reed, the court's Scottish president, unanimously found that two Bills passed by MSPs in March were incompatible with the 1998 Scotland Act that underpins devolution.


They said four parts of a Bill about children's rights and two provisions in one about local government were outside the parliament's legislative competence because they imposed duties on UK ministers in reserved areas.


The Bills will return to Holyrood and can be looked at again by MSPs in a "reconsideration stage" to bring them into line with the court's judgment.


But Prof Adam Tomkins, the John Millar chair of public law at Glasgow University and a former Tory MSP, said the ruling "may well prove to torpedo any argument that Holyrood can legislate solo" for a second independence referendum.


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