The court was told that only the UK parliament could agree to a Scottish independence vote.
Westminster is the highest authority on Scotland’s future, judges at the UK’s highest court have been told, because Scotland’s independence is “critically important” to the future of the UK.
Sir James Eadie KC, a senior lawyer for the UK government, said that the union between Scotland and England was “the constitutional foundation of the modern British state” and that it was important to everyone in the UK.
“Scottish independence would have effects and effects all over the UK. All parts of the UK are interested in this issue, not just Scotland. It’s clear why only the UK parliament can do this, “Eadie told the court.
He also said, “It is very important for the UK as a whole. The union is the constitutional basis of the modern British state, and giving powers to the Scottish parliament within the union would go against the whole point of devolution. “
Eadie’s statement came on the second day of a hearing at the supreme court that had never happened before. The hearing was about whether or not Holyrood had the legal right to hold a referendum on Scottish independence next October without Westminster’s permission.
His comments are likely to anger Scottish government ministers and independence supporters, who say that only Scottish voters should decide Scotland’s future and that this is a key part of the idea of self-determination. It could also make radicals who want independence more likely to call for a surprise referendum.
Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, has made the democratic right to self-determination a key part of her case for holding a second referendum nine years after Scotland lost the first one, which was about independence.
Dorothy Bain KC, Scotland’s top lawyer and lord advocate, told the court on Tuesday that the SNP had won many elections in Scotland and the UK by saying they would work toward independence. Most MSPs in the current Scottish parliament are in favour of independence.
Bain told the court that the question of independence was “extremely important to the people of Scotland and the people of the UK.” It is at the heart of a promise that the people of Scotland made in their manifesto. “
The judges are looking at two questions: can the supreme court rule on a draught bill that hasn’t been looked over, changed, and passed by MSPs? And does this bill violate Holyrood’s limited authority?
Bain says that a proposed referendum bill should be allowed to move forward at Holyrood because it is neutral on the issue of independence and only deals with setting up a referendum. It is also non-binding, so it has no legal effect.
She also says that the Scotland Act of 1998 lets the lord advocate ask the UK supreme court for advice on “devolution matters,” like what the Scottish parliament can and can’t do.
Eadie said that Bain was wrong based on the law from 1998, recent decisions by the supreme court, and common sense. Case law made it very clear that the court could only say whether or not a law was legal after it had been passed by a parliament.
He said that Bain’s decision earlier this year not to give the draught bill a certificate of legal competence because she wasn’t sure if it was constitutionally safe under that act showed that her case wasn’t very strong legally.
Eadie shot down Bain’s claim that the bill was neutral in terms of the constitution. He said that Sturgeon had made it clear many times that she wanted the court to “clear the way” for a referendum that would lead to independence. The proposed law was “solely and directly about the union,” which was against the law.