Sturgeon handed lifeline in quest for IndyRef2 with Brexit

Brexit 'driving the desire' for IndyRef2 says Stephen Gethins

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Nicola Sturgeon is engaged in a judicial battle with the UK Government to force a second Scottish independence referendum through the UK Supreme Court. The court’s judges will be deliberating for months before coming to a decision on whether Holyrood has the authority to hold a vote. Former SNP MP Stephen Gethins said the First Minister should capitalise on Brexit, which most Scots voted against, to justify IndyRef2.

He told BBC Scotland’s The Nine programme: “I think the First Minister has also been clear that she’d want see to gain international recognition because Brexit is very much driving the desire for another independence referendum. 

“That’s why the Scottish Government has received successive mandates to hold one.

“And so, I think you’d want that to be internationally recognised.

“So, I’m not saying these are tricky and difficult issues but I think fundamentally what the Scottish government are trying to do is fulfil that manifesto commitment to give people a say.”

Mr Gethins said: “And remember that if the unionists decide not to engage with that, people are still discussing and debating this issue, it isn’t going to go away. 

“And after seeing my experience of politics, trying to ignore something is never a great recipe for success.”

Successive Conservative Prime Ministers have ruled out granting a section 30 order to Holyrood – a transfer of power that would allow the Scottish Parliament to pass the Scottish Independence Referendum Act. 

And Liz Truss has pledged during the leadership race to ignore Ms Sturgeon’s independence requests on the grounds the union must stick together to face the ongoing crises. 

To circumvent Westminster, the Scottish First Minister has launched a legal bid in the Supreme Court asking for the judges’ opinion on the legality of a second referendum. 

Dorothy Bain KC, the Lord Advocate, argued in court that the vote proposed by the First Minister would be “non self-executing” as a pro-independence vote would not break up th United Kingdom itself.

“A non self-executing referendum invariably has political consequences, but in law, it has no effect. They are entirely advisory,” she said, comparing it to Brexit and the first Scottish referendum, which were both advisory.

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But the Lord Advocate acknowleged she lacked the “necessary degree of confidence” that the SNP’s draft Referendum Bill was within Holyrood’s powers. 

On the idea of a vote being “advisory”, the UK Government lawyers said there was “no secret” about the Scottish Government’s intentions. 

“A referendum is not, and is not designed to be, an exercise in mere abstract opinion polling at considerable public expense.

“Were the outcome to favour independence, it would be used – and no doubt used by the SNP as the central plank – to seek to build momentum towards achieving that end: the termination of the union and the secession of Scotland.”

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