Nicola Sturgeon announces planned date for second referendum
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Nicola Sturgeon is facing a pivotal judgement on her Scottish independence dream in a matter of hours, as the Supreme Court is set to rule on whether the Scottish Parliament can hold a second referendum on independence without Westminster approval. Should the Supreme Court rule in her favour, the First Minister has said she wants to hold the next referendum on October 19, 2023.
If it rules against her, Ms Sturgeon told party members at the SNP conference last month she would be forced to “put our case for independence to the people in an election”.
At least 14 pro-independence rallies are planned to take place tomorrow afternoon, dubbed “judgement day”.
The rallies will take place from the Scottish Borders to Orkney, along with five others taking place across Europe.
Veteran activist Lesley Riddoch, who is organising a rally at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh at 5.30pm on Wednesday, said: “If the yes movement wants to be visible across the UK and to Europe, we have to rediscover activism.
“A movement is there to be bolder and more nimble than government, and one thing we can do is get people on the streets.
“It is incredible that supposedly the world’s most powerful devolved parliament is having to rely on a court decision on whether to have an advisory referendum.”
Kirsteen Fraser, the SNP’s equalities officer, Kirsteen Fraser, said the ruling should bring unity after a “rough couple of years”.
She told the Guardian: “This is a time when people should come together.
“We’ve had a rough couple of years and it’s important for people to remember that this is a movement that has worldwide recognition.”
She said the rallies will serve as an opportunity to show the “diversity of our movement”.
The Supreme Court is deciding whether the draft independence referendum bill, drawn up by the Scottish government, would “relate to” a matter reserved to Westminster, which only MPs can pass laws about.
Constitutional issues are technically reserved for Westminster and do not come under the remit of devolved powers.
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Tomorrow’s Supreme Court ruling could be one of three options – an agreement for the referendum to go ahead, a rejection of the bill because its a reserved matter or judges could decide that it has nothing to do with them and push the matter back to Holyrood.
They could also ask the Scottish Government to publish the bill first and put it through Parliament before asking for it to be legally binding.
Judges at the Supreme Court heard two days of arguments over the issue in October.
The court is due to announce its ruling at about 9.45am on Wednesday, with Court President Lord Reed – a Scottish judge – reading a summary of the judgement in the courtroom.
The UK Government said it is “perfectly obvious” that the fate of the union is reserved to Westminster, arguing that Holyrood does not have the power to hold a referendum on its continued existence.
Its lawyer said a referendum bill would be “self-evidently, squarely and directly about the Union”.
And the lawyer added it was clear the Scottish government’s intention was “not just to have an opinion poll”.
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