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You will note I used the word "plebiscite" rather than referendum. Thus holding a non-legally binding popular vote need not be a direct challenge to Westminster authority. However if the SNP were to win such a plebiscite, they would have the upper hand in any negotiations with London. (Even the Brexit referendum was only politically, not legally binding).

They could then enter into a formal period of negotiation with London, and informal discussions with the EU, and put any outcome of those discussions - currency, national debt, military bases, border management etc. to a formal referendum vote for final approval.

The unspoken threat would be that either London agrees to an orderly process of separation, or Scotland goes its own way anyway - but the key issue is democratic legitimacy. London trying to over-ride a Scottish popular vote would inflame the situation to a degree even the Brexit process never did.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 25th, 2021 at 12:25:32 PM EST
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Surely they can hold one to direct Scottish government policy e.g. to begin negotiations with Westminster for independence. That sort of question seems to fall well within the Scottish government's legal powers and respect Westminster's self-appointed role, while also conveying a serious message about the popular will and where legitimate power lies.
by IdiotSavant on Mon Jan 25th, 2021 at 10:57:15 PM EST
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Good idea. I'm very much against holding referenda on vague, ill-defined proposals which charlatans can twist any which way they please. But a referendum instructing the Scottish government to open independence negotiations with Westminster and membership "exploratory discussions" with the EU doesn't impinge on Westminster prerogatives - to be followed by a formal referendum on the precise terms negotiated.

Of course if Westminster plays "silly buggers" and seeks to impose impossible divorce terms onto Scotland they could inflame the situation to the extent that Scotland proclaims a unilateral declaration of independence and England is left with military force as the only means of maintaining the Union. Then the situation would get very nasty indeed and perhaps provoke US/EU/UN intervention...

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 26th, 2021 at 12:10:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe.

It would seem to me to be a similar road like the one they started on in 2014:

Legality of a referendum

The Scottish government insisted in 2010 that they could legislate for a referendum, as it would be an "advisory referendum on extending the powers of the Scottish Parliament",[17] whose result would "have no legal effect on the Union".[16]:17 Lord Wallace, Advocate General for Scotland, said in January 2012 that holding a referendum concerning the constitution would be outside the legislative power of the Scottish Parliament[24][40] and that private individuals could challenge a Scottish Parliament referendum bill.[41]

The two governments signed the Edinburgh Agreement, which allowed for the temporary transfer of legal authority.

As far as I know, the Edinburgh Agreement came before there was any serioud legal challenges.

If I understand correctly, the objection is based on the subject matter - Scotland's relationship in the UK - isn't decided by the Scottish parliament. And any legal proceedings about this kind of political matters are always a political matter even if it is fought in courts.

by fjallstrom on Tue Jan 26th, 2021 at 12:21:11 PM EST
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