Supreme Court to hear Scottish independence case in October

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Britain’s Supreme Court on Thursday said it would hear a legal case in October to establish whether the Scottish government can hold an independence referendum without consent from Westminster.

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Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon is seeking to hold a new independence referendum, but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declined to allow one.

The Supreme Court said October 11 and 12 had been provisionally set as dates for the hearing after Sturgeon instructed Scotland's top law officer to make a referral on the legality of a referendum without permission from the British government.

That means the case will be heard almost exactly one year before Sturgeon aims to hold the vote. Scotland’s semi-autonomous government has published a bill outlining plans to hold the secession vote on October 19, 2023.

Voters in Scotland, which has a population of around 5.5 million, rejected independence in 2014. But Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) says Britain’s departure from the European Union, which was opposed by a majority of Scots, means the question must be put to a second vote.

Pro-independence parties won a majority in Scottish parliament elections last year, which Sturgeon says gives the Scottish government a mandate to hold a new independence vote.

The British government has refused consent for a new referendum, saying the matter was settled in 2014 and that there are bigger priorities that people in Scotland want their government to focus on.

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