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Nicola Sturgeon after the SNP won a fourth victory in the Scottish parliament election. Photo: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Does the SNP have the law on its side?

The Scottish and UK governments may force their independence confrontation all the way to the Supreme Court. What happens then?

By Sionaidh Douglas-Scott  

The Scottish parliamentary elections this month resulted in a clear majority for pro-independence parties in Holyrood. The SNP government now claims a mandate to press for a second independence referendum. The Westminster government denies the existence of this mandate, but it is hard to see how it can be denied, after an election in which an independence referendum was a central policy of the SNP and Scottish Green Party manifestos. Moreover, Brexit has provided a clear change in circumstances since the last referendum in 2014. There now lies ahead a legal battle whose outcome could determine the future of the Union.

The SNP has already drafted a bill for an independence referendum which voters were able to scrutinise before the elections. Under the current devolution system, Schedule 5 of the 1998 Scotland Act reserves any legislation on “the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England” to the…

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