Stephen Tierney: The Scottish Parliamentary Elections and the “Second Referendum” Debate

An excellent reflection on the more immediate impacts that may occur as a result of the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary election. Professor Tierney outlines the current constitutional (legal) position vis-a-vis the competence of the Scottish Parliament to unilaterally hold a ‘public consultation’ in the absence of a consent-based Section 30 Order transfer of powers from Westminster. Equally, Tierney notes the role the Scottish and UK Supreme Courts are likely to play in resolving the matter.

UK Constitutional Law Association

The Scottish National Party emerged as the largest party in the Scottish parliamentary elections held on 6 May. It fell short of an overall majority but still won an impressive 64 of 129 seats. Nicola Sturgeon, who will be reappointed as First Minister within the new devolved administration, has reiterated the SNP’s quest for independence, claiming that a second referendum is ‘the will of the country’. She will count on the support of the Green party in her quest to hold a popular vote on separate statehood.

Such a referendum was of course held in 2014, and the proposition was rejected by a majority of voters: 55%-45%. The SNP claims political legitimacy for its demand to hold a second referendum on various bases, not least the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Voters in Scotland opted for the remain option by 62%-38% in the…

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