The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom prevents Scotland from holding a second independence referendum

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The UK’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that Scotland cannot hold a second referendum on independence.

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled, in a unanimous decision of 5 judges, that Scotland does not have the power to hold a new referendum on independence without the permission of the British parliament.

The ruling is a setback for the Scottish government’s campaign to break away from the UK and comes six weeks after lawyers for the pro-independence Scottish administration and the UK Conservative government argued their cases at hearings in London.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would respect the ruling but continue the fight for independence, saying Scotland’s “democratic right to choose our own future” was at stake.

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Protesters hold Scottish flags outside the Supreme Court in London on Wednesday, November 23, 2022.

Protesters hold Scottish flags outside the Supreme Court in London, Wednesday, November 23, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

Shortly after the verdict, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he believed “the people of Scotland want us to work to solve the major challenges we face collectively”.

“We respect the clear and final judgment of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom,” added Sunak.

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Scottish National Party leader and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon delivers a statement at the Apex Grassmarket Hotel in Edinburgh on Wednesday November 23, 2022.

Scottish National Party leader and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon delivers a statement at the Apex Grassmarket Hotel in Edinburgh on Wednesday November 23, 2022.
(Jane Barlow/PA via AP)

The semi-autonomous Scottish government wants to hold a referendum next October with the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

The UK government in London refuses to approve a vote, saying the issue was decided in a 2014 referendum in which Scottish voters rejected independence by a margin of 55% to 45%.

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Supporters of Scottish independence hold a banner outside the Supreme Court in London, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. Britain's Supreme Court is due to rule on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, on whether Scotland can hold a vote on the independence without the consent of the UK government, a case with huge implications for the future of the UK.

Supporters of Scottish independence hold a banner outside the Supreme Court in London, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. Britain’s Supreme Court is due to rule on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, on whether Scotland can hold a vote on the independence without the consent of the UK government, a case with huge implications for the future of the UK.
(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, File)

Scotland and England have been politically united since 1707. Scotland has had its own parliament and government since 1999 and makes its own policies on public health, education and other matters. The UK-wide government in London controls matters such as defense and fiscal policy.

Wednesday’s ruling cannot be appealed.

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The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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