The SNP’s landslide general election win in Scotland means that Boris Johnson has “no right” to block a second referendum on independence, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared on Friday. In a post-election speech in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said her government will publish a detailed case for Westminster to grant it the power to hold a rerun of the 2014 referendum, in which Scottish voters rejected independence by 55 to 45 percent. However, Mr Johnson has already categorically ruled out transferring the necessary powers to Holyrood while he is Prime Minister – setting the stage for a constitutional stand-off with Ms Sturgeon over the future of the nation’s three century-old union with England.
Speculation about legal action first emerged at the SNP conference, and since then Ms Sturgeon herself has pointed out that the issue has never been tested in the courts.
The legal challenge is likely to end up in the Supreme Court and while the decision of the judges cannot be predicted with any certainty, some legal commentators have already speculated it is unlikely that the Scottish Government can win.
Famed constitutional historian Vernon Bogdanor told Express.co.uk: "She could, I suppose, take legal action.
“But she would lose.
Nicola Sturgeon’s legal challenge on Scottish independence to FAIL due to UK constitution
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
“An independence referendum is a reserved issue – for Westminster not Holyrood.”
Alan Page, a professor of public law at Dundee University, who acted as a specialist adviser to Holyrood and Westminster committees, echoed Mr Bogdanor's claims.
He told The Times this week: "I wouldn’t expect a challenge to the refusal to grant a section 30 order to succeed, assuming that that was what the First Minister meant.
“Alternatively, she may have meant that, ‘contrary to what I’ve accepted, it may be that we don’t need a section 30 order, only a court can tell us’, which was the argument before the Edinburgh agreement – that the Scottish parliament didn’t require Westminster’s permission to hold an independence referendum.
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Scottish voters rejected independence by 55 to 45 percent in 2014
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
“No doubt both arguments would be run together.
"But I wouldn’t expect that one to succeed either.”
The Edinburgh Agreement was negotiated between the UK and Scottish governments to agree the framework for the 2014 independence referendum.
Kirstene Hair, the Conservative candidate for Angus who lost her seat on Thursday, said: “Nicola Sturgeon’s bid to force through a second independence referendum wouldn’t just fail legally.
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Constitutional historian Vernon Bogdanor
"It would fail morally too.”
Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Liberal Democrat MSP, said that the Edinburgh Agreement was “the gold standard” for how constitutional issues should be resolved and that Ms Sturgeon should focus on health and education, “not waste time and money on another divisive tilt at separation”.