Nicola Sturgeon has said it is “a disgrace” that the Scottish Government is having to take its case to the UK’s highest court in seeking to hold an independence referendum.
Judges at the Supreme Court in London on Tuesday began to hear arguments as to whether Holyrood has the legislative competence in order to enable a vote on the issue to take place.
Ministers intend to hold a referendum on Scottish independence in October, 2023.
However, the UK Government insists that the Scottish Parliament does not have the powers to hold one.
Scotland’s Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC told the court that a referendum would be “entirely advisory” and would have no legal effect.
The First Minister has stated that she will respect the judgment of the Supreme Court if it determines that Holyrood does not have the necessary powers to hold a referendum.
However, she has insisted that the people of Scotland will have their say on the issue, potentially in an election.
Speaking to STV News on Tuesday, Sturgeon said there is “nothing to be gained” by speculation over the outcome of the case.
“Scotland’s right to decide in one way or another will be honoured because democracy demands it,” she said.
“In terms of the ability of the Scottish Parliament to legislate within current law for a referendum, that’s the issue the Supreme Court is looking at.
“The issues and the arguments will be set out today and tomorrow in the Supreme Court and then the judges will reach their view.
“It’s a legal process that has nothing to be gained from anybody, including me, speculating too much at the moment on the outcome of that.”
Sturgeon also hit back at Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross who said that it was a “disgrace” that the First Minister had “forced” the UK Government into the dispute.
The SNP leader argued that it would not be necessary to take such action if Scottish democracy was respected by Westminster.
“Douglas Ross’ comments in that regard are deeply hypocritical,” said Sturgeon.
“It is a disgrace that the Scottish Government, the Lord Advocate’s reference, had to be made.
“If Westminster and Douglas Ross’ party just respected Scottish democracy, a court action wouldn’t be necessary.
“But the fact it is necessary is not my fault, it is the fault of Douglas Ross and his party, and perhaps he should reflect on that rather than making rather ill-informed and I would suggest ill-advised comments.”
She added: “I’m not going to give a running commentary on the Supreme Court, it will consider the arguments, it will consider the case on both sides of this argument and then it will reach its view.
“I respect the rule of law and it’s important that a referendum is lawful and constitutional, and that’s what we are hoping will be the outcome of this.
“But, the judges will reach their view and they will do it in the time that they decide is needed and I’m happy to leave it in their hands at this moment.”
Ross urged the First Minister to “abandon her independence obsession” and to govern for all of Scotland.
“Whatever the outcome of the case at Scotland and the UK’s Supreme Court, it’s a disgrace that the SNP have forced this legal battle that nobody wants during a time of crisis,” he said.
“Now more than ever, all of our focus must be on what really matters to people across Scotland; tackling the global cost-of-living crisis and the record-high waiting times in Scotland’s NHS.
“The SNP government have, at the worst possible time, become distracted again by their own selfish interests and Nicola Sturgeon is wasting precious time and money dragging the country through this court chaos.
“But pushing independence at every turn, she has driven Scotland’s two governments into a legal showdown.”
Ross added: “For the good of the country, she should abandon her independence obsession and finally start to govern for all of Scotland.
“It’s vital that the UK and Scottish governments get back to working together again to ensure we deliver for Scotland.”
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