A supreme court ruling against Nicola Sturgeon’s referendum plans clarifies the challenge ahead for unionists
A ruling by the supreme court that the Scottish government cannot call its own referendum on independence is unsurprising, but still important. When Nicola Sturgeon asked the court to adjudicate on the matter, she must have expected it to thwart her plan for a “consultative” plebiscite next October.
The first minister is probably relieved to be spared the obligation to go through with that vote. Instead, she can focus on making the next UK general election a de facto referendum on independence – a proposition with no basis in constitutional law, but a mechanism for nationalists to campaign on something other than her party’s record in government.