Boris prepares for a battle to stop Sturgeon breaking up the union: PM will go to court if SNP try to hold a wildcat Scottish independence referendum after expected victory in Holyrood elections’
- Scottish Parliament cannot go ahead with a referendum without UK approval
- Boris Johnson does not want to be ‘the Prime Minister who lost Scotland’
- Nicola Sturgeon made second referendum a key plank of her election manifesto
- UK Parliament could take SNP to Supreme Court if it tries to hold vote regardless
Boris Johnson could take Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) to the Supreme Court to put a stop to a second Scottish independence referendum, sources have revealed.
Legal advice dating back to 2011 suggests the Scottish Parliament cannot go ahead with the referendum without approval from the UK Parliament.
And Mr Johnson is unlikely to offer this much-needed sign-off because he does not want to be ‘the Prime Minister who lost Scotland’, the Telegraph reports.
Ms Sturgeon has made calling a fresh ballot on separation as early as this year the key plank of her manifesto.
She has insisted a big SNP win provide a mandate for another contest, even though the last vote in 2014 was billed as ‘once in a generation’.
The opposition within the UK Parliament is so strong it could take the SNP to the Supreme Court if a ‘not now’ approach in light of the coronavirus pandemic does not work.
Legal advice dating back to 2011 suggests the Scottish Parliament cannot go ahead with the referendum without approval from the UK Parliament. Pictured, Boris Johnson on Thursday
Scottish First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Nicola Sturgeon campaigning today in Edinburgh
A Savanta ComRes poll found 54 per cent would vote No if Ms Sturgeon achieves her ambition of triggering another referendum
Poll trackers show that after a surge in support for independence last year the two camps are now effectively in a dead heat
In that case, the SNP could table a referendum bill in Holyrood without the permission of the UK Parliament. Ms Sturgeon could go on to try to hold a vote without permission, which would spark a court case, sources suggest.
A UK government source said: ‘If it comes to that, if those are the cards they play, I don’t think the UK Government can sit back and do nothing.’
Higher spending in Scotland ‘has not driven up standards’
Nicola Sturgeon’s spending bonanza on education has not driven up standards, according to a think-tank.
A report from the Institute for Government (IfG) found that although spending per pupil was around a tenth higher north of the border, attainment in maths and science among 15-year-olds had fallen relative to English students.
The study suggested England’s use of ‘market-like mechanisms’ had delivered more improvements than the focus on ‘public sector collaboration’ in Scotland and Wales.
‘All else being equal, Scotland’s higher spending should translate into higher educational attainment – although it does not,’ the think-tank said.
Ms Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister and SNP leader, is expected to remain in her seat following Thursday’s Scottish Parliament elections.
With a majority of seats expected to go to pro-independence parties, the referendum is likely to dominate discussions in national politics for months.
The latest blow in the country’s bid for independence comes after a Savanta ComRes poll found 54 per cent would vote No if Ms Sturgeon achieves her ambition of triggering another referendum.
The research for the Scotsman also suggested the SNP is set to lose two seats in crucial elections next week – leaving it four seats short of a majority.
After riding high for months, a slew of recent polls have shown backing for dividing the UK has been slipping, as Ms Sturgeon’s civil war with Alex Salmond rages.
Meanwhile, NatWest inflicted another setback on Ms Sturgeon by confirming it will have to move its headquarters to England if Scotland does break away.
And a think-tank has found higher spending north of the border has not succeeded in driving up standards.
The Savanta Comres survey found 42 per cent would back independence, 49 per cent support a No vote. When ‘don’t knows’ were excluded that gave a 54-46 split in favour of the union.
Ahead of the election next Thursday, the SNP was on 45 per cent in the constituency vote – a 22 point lead over the Conservatives and Labour who were both on 23 per cent.
Ms Sturgeon was out on the campaign trail at the Rouken Glen Garden Centre in Giffnock on Wednesday – but support for the SNP appears to be dipping
But Ms Sturgeon’s party was down two points on the list vote at 36 per cent, with the Conservatives on 22 per cent and Labour on 19 per cent.
The biggest change from last week was for the Scottish Greens, who were up three points in the list at 10 per cent.
Mr Salmond’s Alba party was languishing on just two per cent.
According to electionpolling.co.uk’s calculator, these results would leave the SNP four seats short of an outright majority at Holyrood.
However, they could be rescued by the pro-independence Greens who could take as many as 11 list seats – five more than in 2016.
NatWest says it will move HQ to England if Scotland breaks away
NatWest has said the bank would move its HQ from Scotland if the country votes for independence in a referendum.
NatWest – which renamed itself from Royal Bank of Scotland last year – is currently headquartered in Edinburgh.
‘We have been very clear, and it’s recognised by senior nationalists, that in the event that there was independence for Scotland our balance sheet would be too big for an independent Scottish economy,’ NatWest CEO Alison Rose told reporters.
‘And so we would move our registered headquarters in the event of independence to London.’
Ms Rose added: ‘We are neutral on the issue of Scottish independence. It’s something for the Scottish people to decide.’