Scottish independence: Can Boris Johnson stop another independence referendum?

IndyRef2 likened to 'second Brexit' by Scottish border farmer

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After the election success for the Scottish National Party in early May, Nicola Sturgeon pledged to “get back to work immediately” and lead the country’s Covid recovery. She added that “when the time is right” she would “offer this country the choice of a better future,” referring to the party’s pledge to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly said he would aim to block the move, calling it “irresponsible and reckless”.

Does Boris have the power to stop indyref2?

Scotland is a devolved nation, meaning there are separate legislatures and executives in Scotland and England.

The laws on who would have the final say on Scottish independence are unclear, with experts saying the situation could well end up in court if neither side budges.

Simon Case, a top aide to Mr Johnson, has said that preserving the Union is now “at the forefront of policymaking in Whitehall”.

Mr Case said the Prime Minister will be “front and centre” of efforts to keep Scotland part of the UK.

Ms Sturgeon, however, has long called for another referendum, and said the Prime Minister is “not entitled to stand in the way of the democratic choices of the people of Scotland”.

In an interview in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon said: “If Boris Johnson wants to stop it, he would have to take legal action.

“If Boris Johnson didn’t do that [take legal action to dispute the legal basis of the referendum], by definition it would be a legal referendum. If he did do that, the courts would decide.

“But actually, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here because I believe that if the people of Scotland vote for this, if the support for independence continues, then it is not sustainable for any Westminster prime minister to stand in the way.”

The BBC’s Scottish political editor, David Wallace Lockhart, echoed this.

He said: “When that question is put to the UK Government – which could be years down the line – but when that request is put for that Section 30 order which would allow Scotland to hold an independence referendum, if the answer from Boris Johnson and that point is still, ‘now is not the time’, I think we can expect to see that potentially go to the courts and a legal argument to play out about who exactly has the power to hold an independence referendum in Scotland.

“Where does that power lie – is it Holyrood, is it Westminster?”

Deputy first minister John Sweeney has confirmed his party would indeed legislate for a second referendum if Mr Johnson were to block one.

He told BBC Breakfast: “We’ve said we will take forward legislation to have a legal referendum – we already have put in place some of the legislative arrangements for that process.

“We will embark on such an agenda should there be a majority for such a proposition in the Scottish Parliament.”

The polls, however, show Scots are still fairly evenly split on the matter.

A recent opinion poll, carried out by Savanta ComRes for Scotland on Sunday found that 40 percent of Scots believe the SNP do have a mandate for a second vote, with the exact same percentage believing they do not.

A further 19 percent said they didn’t know.

The poll, which was carried out amongst 1,0003 adults between May 11-16, found that Scottish independence was the top priority for one in 11 people taking part.

When asked to pick years between now and 2026 for when a second independence referendum should take place, 17 percent of those polled said 2022 would be the best time for any second vote, with more than a quarter of Scots saying there should ‘never’ be another vote (27 percent).

The poll showed 43 percent of Scots saying they would back Yes, while 47 percent stating they would vote No, with eight percent of Scots undecided.

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