The United Kingdom has been plunged into a constitutional crisis after Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the SNP was to be removed from power at Holyrood.
In a shock move, Mrs May declared an emergency debate would be held next week in the UK parliament with a view to revoking the Scotland Act and imposing direct rule over Scotland.
The news follows a stand-off between Edinburgh and London after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon held an independence referendum against the wishes of the UK Government. The referendum, held after the UK dramatically ended negotiations with the European Union thus ending hopes of any deal, resulted in a majority of Scots voting Yes.
Turnout was less than 60% however after some local authorities refused to allow premises to be used in the ballot. The authorities, including Aberdeen and Inverclyde, are controlled by pro-Union parties. Sporadic outbreaks of violence marred the ballot as members of extreme right wing organisations, many chanting “Rule Brittania”, attacked members of the public outside polling stations.
Today’s news of direct rule prompted flash protests across Scotland with at least ten thousand people gathering in George Square, Glasgow. Thousands more demonstrated in Edinburgh with smaller protests in Inverness and Dundee.
Anger has been growing following the surprise arrests last week of key Yes campaigners who have been acused of promoting the illegal referendum. Scottish Independence Convention convenors Elaine C. Smith and Pat Kane are being held at an undisclosed location in central London. Journalist Lesley Riddoch and former Editor of The Sunday Herald, Richard Walker, were released but had their passports confiscated and have been forbidden from talking to the media.
Key alternative media outlets have been seized by the UK authorities. Wings Over Scotland, Newsnet and Bella Caledonia are among several that were closed down immediately after the disputed referendum. The pro-Independence newspaper The National has been removed from the shelves of several major retailers.
The situation hes been described as serious by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who repeated her call from last week for the UK Government to recognise the mandate handed to the SNP leader by the Scottish parliament and enter into talks. In March 2017 a majority of Holyrood MSPs voted to request a Section 30 order from Westminster which would have granted the Scottish Government the legal power to hold a referendum.
The First Minister said: “Our manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood elections specifically stated that any attempt to take Scotland out of the EU against our will would trigger a second independence referendum. This was endorsed by the Scottish Parliament in March 2017.
“Despite this, the Scottish Government has compromised and argued we would accept a loss of EU membership if we could safeguard membership of the EU Single Market. This is now gone and with it the likelihood of any deal with our European neighbours.
“Had we not acted and held a second referendum, Scotland faced the loss of a hundred thousand jobs and billions in trade. I had, and whilst I remain First Minister still have, an obligation to serve the people of Scotland.
“I urge Theresa May to reconsider this threat and to enter into talks with the Scottish Government.”
If, as now seems likely, Theresa May follows through with her threat of direct rule, it will at a stroke end twenty years of devolved elected government in Scotland. Sources close to Downing Street are briefing that the Prime Minister intends to hold snap Scottish elections with a view to installing a so-called ‘Lawful Government’.
Until then it is expected that Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar will be appointed de-facto First Minister and Deputy First Minister until a new administration can be formed.
It is also expected that any new Scotland Act will make it illegal for any party to campaign on an independence referendum platform. Leaders of the SNP and Scottish Greens face imprisonment if they campaign for, or are seen to promote, the idea of another independence referendum.
Speaking to the BBC tonight, the Secretary of State for Scotland said: “The SNP administration acted beyond the scope of its powers by holding an illegal referendum. We had a referendum in 2014 and Scotland said no.
“We cannot have maverick nationalists imposing their will on the silent majority. The United Kingdom Government has acted to restore both the rule of law and faith in our democracy.
Mundell added: “It is imperative we do not allow such reckless behaviour to occur again. That is why future elections for Holyrood will ensure parties stand on a platform of ‘policies for the majority’ and not ‘separatism for the minority’.”
The European Union has urged both sides to come together and resolve the issue through negotiation. Speaking tonight however, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker insisted the commission could not intervene unless requested to do so by the member state.
[This is a satirical news article. It has taken events in Catalonia and imagined them to be happening in Scotland. Shocking isn’t it?]
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