Sturgeon 'won't win indyref even if she wins Supreme Court case'

Nicola Sturgeon won’t win Scottish independence referendum even if Supreme Court judges rule later that she can have ‘glorified opinion poll’, says former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars

  • Ex-SNP deputy Jim Sillars, 85, hopes Nicola Sturgeon loses battle to hold vote
  • Supreme Court will today rule if Scottish gov can call independence referendum
  • Mr Sillars slammed Ms Sturgeon’s referendum plans as a ‘glorified opinion poll’
  • He added that she wouldn’t win as there is not enough core independence vote

Nicola Sturgeon will not win a Scottish independence referendum regardless of whether the Supreme Court rules she has the legal power to call one, a former deputy SNP leader said.

Former SNP deputy Jim Sillars, 85, slammed the current SNP leader’s plans for a second independence referendum as ‘nothing more than a glorified opinion poll’.

He also said he hoped the UK Government would win its battle in the Supreme Court – who will rule this morning on whether the Scottish Government can hold a second referendum on independence next year without approval from Westminster.

Mr Sillars said he wants  the court to decide that ‘the constitution is reserved’, meaning that the Scottish Parliament cannot call an independence referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon (pictured) will not win a Scottish independence referendum regardless of whether the Supreme Court rules she has the legal power to call one, a former deputy SNP leader said

Former SNP deputy Jim Sillars (pictured), 85, slammed the current SNP leader’s plans for a second referendum as ‘nothing more than a glorified opinion poll’

Even if the Supreme Court did rule in the Scottish Government’s favour ‘the result would have no effect’ as unionsts would not turn out to vote at the poll, Mr Sillars told The Telegraph.

He said that people are who pro-independence need to first ‘build up the core vote’ to win it – with polling at a level where ‘no Westminster government could deny a referendum’.

He said that if a referendum instead came first, ‘I don’t think we would win’. 

In 2014, Scots rejected ending the more-than 300-year-old union with England by 55% to 45%, but independence campaigners have argued the vote two years later for Britain to leave the European Union, which the majority of Scottish voters opposed, has materially changed the circumstances.

Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon announced earlier this year that she intended to hold an advisory independence vote on October 19 next year, but that it had to be lawful and internationally recognised.

But the UK Government in London has said it would not grant permission for another vote, saying it should be a once-in-a-generation event.

Under the 1998 Scotland Act, which created the Scottish parliament and devolved some powers from Westminster, all matters relating to the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England are reserved to the UK parliament.

The Supreme Court will decide firstly whether it should consider the issue at all, given that no referendum bill has been introduced yet into Scotland’s devolved parliament.

If it concludes it has jurisdiction, it will then decide whether an advisory referendum is a reserved matter.

The Supreme Court (pictured) will rule this morning on whether the Scottish Government can hold a second referendum on independence next year without approval from Westminster

In two days of hearings in October, the Scottish Government argued that while politically significant, the vote on independence would be merely advisory and not legally binding.

But the Conservative-led UK Government said the court should not even engage with an abstract legal question.

Most legal experts expect the court to support the view that no referendum can be held without the Westminster government’s approval.

Supreme Court Justices have also broken with protocol to keep their decision about Nicola Sturgeon’s independence referendum case secret from lawyers.

Representatives of the Scottish and UK Governments will not get notification of the outcome of the case until judges give a statement in court.

Supreme Court cases usually inform counsel of a decision six days before it is announced. They are then allowed to inform their clients 24 hours before the announcement – although there have been some exceptions.

However, it is understood Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, who represented the Scottish Government, and Sir Jim Eadie, for the UK Government, have not been told the verdict.

Ministers for both governments are also unaware of the outcome – and plan to watch a live stream on the Supreme Court website to learn the decision. Court President Lord Reed – a Scottish judge – will read a summary of the judgment in the court at 9.45am today.

A Supreme Court spokesman said: ‘It is at the discretion of the President of the Supreme Court as to whether parties are given advance sight of the judgment.’

Miss Sturgeon has said she will turn the next general election into a ‘de facto referendum’ if the Supreme Court does not rule on her side.

‘Whatever the verdict… a second independence referendum next year is the wrong priority at the worst possible time,’ Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross (pictured) said last night

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said last night: ‘Whatever the verdict… a second independence referendum next year is the wrong priority at the worst possible time.

‘Scotland faces big challenges right now and Nicola Sturgeon’s plan for a referendum in October 2023 is a massive distraction from those challenges. It would divide Scotland all over again and take attention away from helping families with the global cost-of-living crisis.’

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: ‘The people of Scotland need a government which is focused on the issues that really matter, like tackling the cost-of-living crisis, cutting NHS waiting times and making Scottish education the best in the world again.

‘Instead, Nicola Sturgeon has spent months cheerleading for an expensive and divisive court case.’

Pamela Nash, chief executive of the Scotland in Union campaign group, said: ‘Irrespective of today’s judgment, the SNP-Green coalition partners in Edinburgh will continue to place the break-up of the UK at the centre of their work, and to the cost of everything else.’

A Scottish Government spokesman said the Supreme Court ruling was ‘intended to achieve legal clarity’ and ministers would respond shortly after.

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