This warning was made in January as two legal experts outlined the potential for fallout between Westminster and Holyrood. Writing for the UK Constitutional Law Association, the pair said trying to hold a referendum without the UK Government’s cooperation would be a “non-starter”. They also added that Ms Sturgeon’s mandate for indyref2 was “legally irrelevant”. However they said SNP MPs and supporters of independence did have a variety of other tactics available to maintain pressure to find a political solution.
The academics said: “Unpalatable as it may be to some Nationalists that the exercise of Scottish self-determination depends on Westminster’s co-operation, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that this is necessary.”
The article, by Strathclyde University senior public law lecturer Chris McCorkindale and Durham University public law professor Aileen McHarg came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson clashed with the Scottish First Minister over a second vote.
While the First Minister argued she could try and earn international recognition for the need of a second referendum, the experts said this option wasn’t possible.
Instead, they stressed the need for the Scottish and UK Governments agreeing on a referendum process – something that ultimately comes down to politics.
They wrote: “If a second independence referendum is to take place and be effective as a means of achieving independence it is therefore crucial that it be conducted on a proper legal footing – that is, that the rules it sets out providing for the organisation of a poll and regulating the conduct of the referendum campaign are legally valid and hence binding on those to whom they apply.
“Attempting to proceed with a referendum without such a legislative underpinning would be a non-starter, given that it would depend upon the operation of Scotland’s 32 local authorities in organising the vote (none of which is under majority SNP control), and would almost certainly be boycotted by unionists.
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One thing that could help Nicola Sturgeon and co get indyref2 over the line is the growing support for independence in Scotland.
Sir John Curtice told BBC’s World at One that between 52 to 53 percent of Scottish people now favour independence from the United Kingdom in what will be seen as a major boost for Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP.
The polling expert added the coronavirus pandemic has led to a gain of up to two percent for independence during the last quarter of the year.
He said: “We have had nine independent polls conducted this year and so far in 2020 on average these have put yes at 51 percent and no at 49 percent.
“If you look at figures for the last quarter, the four polls done during the coronavirus pandemic that figure has crept up to 52 or 53 percent.
“So we have been looking at a sustained period of around six months in which on average the polls have been putting yes ahead.”