Taking the Scottish Government to court over the holding of another independence referendum would not be a “good look” for the UK Government, the Constitution Secretary has said.
The SNP on Saturday released an 11-point “roadmap” to an independence referendum, which said another vote could be held if a pro-separation majority is returned to Holyrood in May, even if the necessary Section 30 order is not granted.
The document said it would then be for the UK Government to seek to block it through the courts.
Mike Russell, Scotland’s Constitution Secretary and SNP president, told the BBC he hopes a court battle will not be necessary, adding: “We’re saying to the world: if the people of Scotland vote for something, they should get it – that’s unremarkable.
“I think it’s such a bad look for any government to say ‘Even if the people of Scotland vote for something, we’ll take them to court to stop them’.
“(It’s) not just the Government – that would essentially be taking the whole people of Scotland who voted for it to court.”
He also said he did not think the UK Government would take such action.
“I think sense prevails, but it is quite fair that we say we intend to deliver that, so we’ll carry on with our referendum and if the UK Government wish to challenge that in court, they will have to challenge it and we will defend it,” he said.
Mr Russell would not be drawn on what would happen if the UK Supreme Court rejected the referendum as unlawful.
There is no set timetable for the holding of a referendum laid out in the document, but it does say it must occur after the pandemic has ended.
Independence after the pandemic, Mr Russell said, would allow Scotland to better rebuild after the economic toll taken by Covid-19.
“The connection with the pandemic is to make sure that Scotland rebuilds in the way it needs to rebuild for its future,” he said.
“That is what we need to do, focused on Scotland’s needs and Scotland’s priorities, not be treated in the way we have been treated over the last many years and particularly during Brexit – that is ignored.”
Despite assurances from Mr Russell and the SNP that another referendum will not be held during the pandemic, former prime minister Gordon Brown said there should be a period of introspection immediately following coronavirus.
He told Sky News: “There needs to be a time to heal and there needs to be a time to reflect and learn the lessons – what went wrong during this pandemic, what went wrong with the economic recovery plan, why are people so fed up with what actually happened, can we do something better to govern the United Kingdom in a more sensitive and more efficient way?”
Mr Brown’s comments came as he wrote in the Daily Telegraph on Monday that the UK risks becoming a “failed state” if the Union is not reformed.
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