Supreme Court to hear indyref2 case in October

The case will be heard just over one year ahead of the date of a proposed referendum.

21 July 2022

A key court case that could allow the Scottish Parliament to legislate for another independence referendum will hear arguments in October, the Supreme Court has said.

Scotland’s top law officer, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC, referred a prospective Bill on another vote to the Supreme Court before it was introduced to ascertain if it is within the powers of Holyrood.

The court confirmed on Tuesday that it had refused an application from the Advocate General for Scotland, Lord Stewart QC, which would have required both sides to file “written cases restricted to the question whether the court can or should accept the reference”.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court confirmed that arguments will be heard on October 11 and 12 – almost exactly a year ahead of the date of a proposed referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants the referendum to be held in October 2023 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

However, dates are subject to change depending on court business.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said last month she hoped to hold another vote on Scottish independence on October 19 2023.

But, if the court ruled Holyrood did not have the required powers for a referendum, the next general election would be treated as a “de facto” poll.

The SNP, she said, would campaign on the single issue of independence in a bid to secure a mandate from more than 50% of the Scottish people to begin negotiations for separation.

The news comes as the Tory leadership race entered its final stage, with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former chancellor Rishi Sunak vying for No 10.

Both candidates have said they would refuse a section 30 request from the Scottish Government for the necessary powers to be devolved to Holyrood that would allow for another referendum to be held – the same process that led to the first vote in 2014.

Mr Sunak told the Spectator podcast that another referendum was “not the priority” for people in Scotland, while Ms Truss, when asked if she would agree to a request under any circumstances said: “No”.

“The last referendum in 2014 was described as a once-in-a-generation referendum, we’re now in 2022 – that is not a generation ago.”

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