Scotland’s top civil court dealt nationalists a blow on Friday by declining to rule that the Scottish parliament had the right to call an independence referendum without London’s permission.
In the first skirmish of what is likely to become a major legal battle, the Court of Session in Edinburgh said it was premature and hypothetical to challenge Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s power to block a new secession vote.
But, with the Scottish National Party (SNP) set for a big win in May’s election to the Edinburgh parliament on the promise of a referendum, the fate of the 300-year-old union of Scotland with the rest of the United Kingdom is by no means assured.
Surveys suggest that Scottish voters, who rejected secession in 2014 but are now frustrated by being taken out of the European Union against their will, would this time vote for independence. Johnson may therefore need the UK Supreme Court to uphold his veto on such a vote taking place.