Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon holds up her painting in a painting class with WASPI women as she campaigns at an art school in Dundonald Image Credit: AFP

London: The UK Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked the Scottish parliament from holding an independence vote.

The court unanimously rejected an attempt by the Scottish National Party (SNP) to force a vote next October, as it did not have the approval of Britain's parliament, CNN reported.

The move will likely anger Scottish nationalists who say the country's future is for Scottish voters to decide.

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.

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.

Next step

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.

"The people of Scotland want us to be working on fixing the major challenges that we collectively face, whether that's the economy, supporting the NHS or indeed supporting Ukraine," he said in Parliament.

Opinion polls suggest that Scots remain narrowly divided on whether to break from the UK, and that a clear consensus in either direction has yet to emerge.

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.

Since 1999, Scotland has had a devolved government, meaning many, but not all, decisions are made at the SNP-led Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh.