0345 GMT June 21, 2021
“I’m saying if Boris Johnson wants to stop it, he would have to take legal action,” Sturgeon told Sky News.
“If Boris Johnson didn’t do that, by definition it would be a legal referendum. If he did do that, the courts would decide,” Sturgeon said.
Scotland’s first minister, who will claim the right to hold a second independence referendum by the end of 2024 should the Scottish National Party (SNP) win a majority in the Scottish elections today, said Johnson was “not entitled to stand in the way of the democratic choices of the people of Scotland” and would have to take the Scottish government to court to stop her second referendum.
“I’m saying if Boris Johnson wants to stop it, he would have to take legal action,” she said in an interview in Glasgow.
“But actually, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here because I believe that if the people of Scotland vote for this, if the support for independence continues, then it is not sustainable for any Westminster prime minister to stand in the way.”
Johnson has insisted he will refuse any request for a second independence referendum, saying the matter was settled for a generation in 2014, while the Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross has said a referendum held without the approval of Westminster would be “illegal”.
Sturgeon’s assertion that a second referendum would be legal if it is not challenged by the UK government has raised eyebrows in Westminster.
“The Scotland Act requires consent for a referendum. Just because it’s not challenged by the UK government doesn’t make it legal," said one Conservative source. “The argument she is deploying is a significant development.”
The pro-independence SNP has led the Scottish Parliament since 2007 and appears on course to secure an unprecedented fourth term today, when Scots go to the polls to elect 129 parliamentarians to the 22-year-old devolved institution, Al Jazeera wrote.
With opinion polls predicting a comfortable SNP victory, the party’s two nearest rivals, the Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservatives – both pro-union – have all but given up hope of topping the ballot.
Instead, they are focusing their campaign energies on trying to deprive the SNP of securing an outright majority.
Scotland voted against independence by 55 to 45 percent in 2014, but recent surveys have suggested that Scottish statehood is supported by up to half of the nation’s electorate, who, unlike voters in England, also decisively opted to remain in the European Union in the 2016 EU membership referendum.
In its 2021 manifesto, the SNP announced that it wanted to give “people in Scotland the right to choose our own future in an independence referendum … once the immediate COVID crisis has passed”.
A parliamentary majority would enable the SNP to win easily a vote in the Edinburgh-based Parliament on holding a second independence poll.