Gentle reminder for Theresa May : it’s not actually possible for you to prevent Scotland exercising its right to self-determination on independence

There were some dark murmurings on Channel 4 News last night that Theresa May has revealed herself in private to be a Thatcher-style hardline zealot militant Brit Nat fundamentalist who might even be reluctant to “grant” a second independence referendum if the Scottish Parliament votes for it.  During her regal visit today, she went no further than trotting out the tired “you’ll have had your referendum” line, but it might still be an apt moment to point out to her why it’s not actually possible for London to “block” a referendum, whatever she might have been led to believe…

1) Some (but not all) expert legal opinion states that the Scottish Parliament already has the power to hold a consultative referendum on independence, if the legislation is framed with great care.  At the very least, there would be a fighting chance of overcoming any legal hurdles and getting a referendum held without any involvement from the UK government at all.

2) If that doesn’t work, there is the option of an early Holyrood election, which could double as a de facto independence referendum if the pro-independence parties state in their manifestos that they are seeking an outright mandate for independence.  The First Minister doesn’t have the power to literally call an early election, but given the current parliamentary arithmetic it would be easy enough to bring one about, as long as the Greens were on board with the strategy.  It would simply be a case of the Scottish Government resigning, and the SNP and Greens between them preventing an alternative government from being formed.

3) If the UK government refuses to accept a mandate for independence from either a consultative referendum or an early Holyrood election, there is then the nuclear option of the SNP withdrawing its MPs from Westminster, which would leave Scotland almost totally unrepresented in the UK parliament.  Even the headbanger tendency in the London commentariat would come to acknowledge that the United Kingdom is not viable if one “partner” in the union has effectively withdrawn from the country’s institutions.  Perhaps there might be one last appeal to the Scottish people to turf the abstentionist SNP out at the next UK general election, but if that call went unheeded, the game would essentially be up.

Now, I’m not saying that any of the above is remotely desirable or likely.  But the fact that the SNP have all these weapons in their armoury is a good reason for thinking that Theresa May is less likely to attempt to “block” a referendum than perhaps she even realises herself yet.

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James Kelly blogs at Scot Goes Pop, where this post originally appeared.

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16 thoughts on “Gentle reminder for Theresa May : it’s not actually possible for you to prevent Scotland exercising its right to self-determination on independence

  1. Keith Robinson

    I read a very good comment on WOS by Wull wherein he suggested the next vote should not be termed as indyref2 but rather a Union ref. That is, should Scotland remain part of the EU or part of the U.K. If, like Dugdale and co. they tick both boxes the paper is deemed as spoiled. An overwhelming vote to remain in the UK would be seen as a resounding endorsement of Scotland rejecting Westminster rule.

    This scenario avoids the situation of a second indyref as technically people are voting to express a preference of what Union they wish to remain. People may want to consider the next vote not as a second indyref but rather the more accurately termed EU in or UK out (Sexit).

    If the vote favoured Scotland remaining in the UK then and only then the option of an indyref2 would be considered. It means the SNP would also have the luxury of calling that ref at a time of their choosing. I’m sorry if this idea may detract a little from the title of your website but I think you would agree it does make more sense as it stacks the odds in favour of those who want self determination.

    Perhaps it might be advisable to start the push for a union vote ASAP. And save the indyref2 as a fail safe ace up the sleeve.

    1. Grammamia

      Your comment does not make sense. In any case, why should it be a choice of dictatorship. We want independence, both from the EU and from Westminster.

  2. Bob

    James Kelly quote; “any of the above is remotely desirable or likely” – very true.

    Can’t you all settle down, put away the sabres and wait to dissect the outcome of EU talks. Then Nicola can study the polls.

  3. Sandy

    I quite like the idea of the Scottish government calling its own referendum without Westminsters permission. That way plenty of No voters will stay home saying the referendum isn’t valid or legal or whatever. If you don’t vote, you don’t count, easy win.

      1. Sandy

        I know, just like the image of all the die hard unionists staying home trying to ignore the rest of us as we calmly vote our way out the uk.

  4. Papko

    If Scotland can claim they did not vote for Brexit , but there rights are being trampled by being dragged out .
    Why don’t we make it indyref2 , that any particular region that votes stay in the UK can , and vice versa .
    that way Dundee West does not get to drag Moray-shire and the Shetlands out of the UK against there will .

  5. Keith Robinson

    In terms of symbolism, I think the FM won on several points today. Thatcher MK2 coming to Bute house so soon after being made head of the Tories can be seen as the FM calling the shots. Further symbolism was the two saltires for the photo shoot. Replacing one with the previous EU flag may have been seen as provocative. Standing at the top of the stairs and having Thatcher come up to her before the handshake for the press as opposed to going down to meet her was all orchestrated to perfection.

    Personally I would have put up a St. George cross. Not so subtle I know, but many would have subconsciously internalised this for what it actually represented.

  6. Jim hodge

    There is also the UN Charter which guarantees the right of self determination. Every member state of the UN has to agree to this. Also Teresa May obviously does not know that north of the border, sovereignty lies with us the Scottish people and not with Westminster

  7. john Sands

    Is it not the case, that it only needs a majority of Scottish MPs, deciding that the union is over, for it to be ended. Any type of referendum which returned a yes or leave result would be all it takes for the SNP MPs at Wastemonster, to vote in the end of the union.

  8. Horgio

    What part of “Scotland voted to stay in the UK” and “UK voted to leave the EU” don’t you lot understand ?

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