© Jonathan Mitchell

Nicola Sturgeon says she wants to hold a second Scottish independence referendum on 19 October 2023 but it’s not certain she will get what she wants

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, is planning on holding a second independence referendum for Scotland on 19 October 2023.

She plans to use the same question put to voters in 2014: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” Sturgeon has vowed that the will of the Scottish people will not be held back: ‘Scottish democracy cannot be a prisoner to Boris Johnson.’

“Scottish democracy cannot be a prisoner to Boris Johnson”

Referendums must receive the permission of Westminster but in this instance, Sturgeon is prepared to defy Boris Johnson and Westminster – she plans to host a referendum with or without the permission of the Prime Minister.

Instead, the First Minister has decided to ask the supreme court to rule on the legality of holding a new referendum on Scottish independence without Westminster’s permission.

She attests that a future referendum must be lawful and be a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion.

How likely is another independence referendum?

The referendum may never happen. Sturgeon has made it very clear that she is only willing to go ahead with the referendum if judges in the UK Supreme Court consider it legal and that’s not guaranteed – the weight of legal opinion is against her.

In June 2022, Angus Robertson, the Scottish constitution secretary, explained that the SNP would continue to push for a referendum based on a section 30 order.

Sturgeon says: “My determination is to secure a process that allows the people of Scotland, whether yes, no or yet to be decided, to express their views in a legal, constitutional referendum so the majority view can be established fairly and democratically. The steps I am setting out today seek to achieve that.

“If it does transpire that there is no lawful way for this parliament to give the people of Scotland the choice of independence in a referendum, and if the UK government continues to deny a section 30 order, my party will fight the UK general election on this single question: should Scotland be an independent country?”

Described as her biggest political gamble yet, Sturgeon’s plan is to pursue a bill and take her chances in court.

If this fails, the First Minster has promised that she will fight the next UK election on the single issue of independence.

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