Scots plan rallies across country after verdict

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Time for Scotland, the campaign group organising the demonstrations, insisted it would not be attacking the legal system or dismissing judges as ‘enemies of the union’…reports Asian Lite News

Thousands of pro-independence supporters are expected to gather at rallies across Scotland today after the Supreme Court issues its IndyRef2 verdict.

Judges in London will issue a ruling on November 23 on whether the Scottish Parliament has the legal powers to stage a referendum on the constitution without prior approval from Westminster.

A rally is planned outside Holyrood from 5.30pm as well as a dozen other locations across the country.

Time for Scotland, the campaign group organising the demonstrations, insisted it would “not be attacking the legal system or dismissing judges as ‘enemies of the union'”.

Organisers hope to replicate the scale of the anti-Brexit rally held outside the Scottish Parliament in January 2020 before the UK officially left the EU.

“Really positive images of indy supporters went right round the globe that night,” the campaign website stated.

“The chances are very high that we can do it again the day the Supreme Court’s decision is announced. But we need to gather that same day – not wait till it’s more convenient. Unlike previous Prime Ministers, independence campaigners will not be attacking the legal system or dismissing judges as ‘enemies of the union’. But if the verdict goes against the Scottish Government we will ask how on earth the nation of Scotland – supposedly an ‘equal partner’ in the UK – can ever hold a lawful vote about its own future.”

The case was referred to the Supreme Court by the Lord Advocate, Scotland’s top legal officer, earlier this year on the request of Nicola Sturgeon.

The First Minister has previously stated her government’s intention to hold a second referendum on October 19 next year – but only if judges rule Holyrood has the legal powers to do so.

Successive Tory prime ministers have repeatedly refused to allow an IndyRef2 and has insisted the result of the 2014 vote on independence should be respected.

Lawyers representing the UK Government at a Supreme Court hearing last month called for judges to dismiss the motion as powers over the constitution were “clearly” reserved to Westminster.

Sturgeon has signalled the SNP will attempt to use the next UK general election as a “de facto” referendum if judges vote rule against her government.

Scotland last held a vote on the issue, with Westminster’s approval, in 2014, when voters rejected the prospect of independence by 55 per cent to 45 per cent, reported CNN.

The pro-independence SNP has nonetheless dominated politics north of the border in the intervening years, at the expense of the traditional, pro-union groups. Successive SNP leaders have pledged to give Scottish voters another chance to vote, particularly since the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016.

The latest push by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon involved holding an advisory referendum late next year, similar to the 2016 poll that resulted in Brexit. But the country’s top court agreed that even a non-legally binding vote would require oversight from Westminster, given its practical implications, reported CNN.

Sturgeon said she accepted the ruling, but tried to frame the decision as another pillar in the argument for secession.

“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 (a) case” for independence,” she wrote on Twitter.

She accused the British government of “outright democracy denial” in a speech to reporters, reported CNN.

Sturgeon said her next step in her effort to achieve a vote will be to brand the next British general election – scheduled for January 2025 at the latest – as a proxy referendum in Scotland on which course to take.

Meanwhile, UK’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak heralded the court’s “clear and definitive ruling” as an opportunity to move on from the independence debate, reported CNN.

England and Scotland have been joined in a political union since 1707, but many Scots have long bristled at what they consider a one-sided relationship dominated by England. Scottish voters have historically rejected the ruling Conservative Party at the ballot box and voted heavily – but in vain – against Brexit, intensifying arguments over the issue in the past decade.

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