SNP fail in bid to give Holyrood power to hold independence referendum

The party had aimed to amend the Scotland Act.

SNP fail in bid to give Holyrood power to hold independence referendum STV News

A bid by SNP MPs to enable the Scottish Parliament to hold an independence referendum has been rejected in the House of Commons.

The party had sought to introduce legislation which would have given Holyrood the power to hold a vote on the issue – without the consent of Westminster – by amending the Scotland Act of 1998.

However, the plans were rejected, with 265 MPs voting against the proposal, while 42 were in favour.

Along with 37 SNP MPs, three Plaid Cymru MPs, as well as the Alba Party’s Kenny MacAskill and independent MP Patrick Grady, voted for the changes.

It comes after the Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Parliament does not have the legislative competence to hold an independence referendum.

In the lead-up to the 2014 referendum, then-prime minister David Cameron agreed to a temporary transfer of power from London to Edinburgh to allow for the vote to take place.

Tommy Sheppard, the SNP MP for Edinburgh East, who moved the motion, told UK ministers that they are “fuelling” the case for independence by denying a referendum.

“This debate that we’re having today and this motion that we’re proposing is absolutely about the real issues that are facing families in this country right here, right now,” he told MPs.

“The more you tell people that you cannot have something, the more they will want it.

“We have seen that in recent opinion polls with a surge in the support for independence.

“And most significantly, in last week’s opinion poll, we now see a clear majority of people who say there should be another independence question before the end of the term of the Scottish Parliament by 2026.

“That’s actually the first time there’s been a clear majority on the timing of the referendum.

“So, all that is happening by the UK’s obstinance and insistence and denial of the democratic mandate in Scotland is that they are fuelling the case for independence.”

He added: “If it comes to a situation where there is a conflict between the British constitution and the claim of right of the Scottish people, then it is our responsibility – and we will not shirk from it – to make sure that the latter triumphs over the former.”

Scotland Office minister John Lamont accused the SNP of going “round in the same circles” on the case for independence.

He said: “There’s a new, younger frontman, but it’s the same old SNP pushing division and grievance at every turn.

“The SNP group is still focused only on division. It’s obsessing over the constitution and it’s distracted from the real priorities of the people across Scotland.”

Lamont added: “We debated the SNP’s plan, such as it is, to separate from the UK just six weeks ago.

“We debated the Supreme Court’s confirmation that the constitution is a reserved matter just three weeks ago.

“Yet, here we are again, and this time the SNP are going round in the same circles in the hope they can do it all again next month in the early part of 2023.”

Labour’s shadow secretary Ian Murray said that SNP MPs were playing “games” in bringing forward the motion.

He told the Commons: “This charade today says to the Scottish people that their concerns and issues are of no relevance to SNP MPs that are supposed to be here to represent them.

“They aren’t standing up for Scotland, but disregarding Scotland’s interests.

“It says to Scottish voters that at the next election you have a choice – to continue with these games from MPs sitting on the opposition benches, or have Scottish Labour MPs on the government side of this House, having kicked the Tories out of power.”