Scotland’s first minister has proposed 19 October 2023 as the date for another referendum on independence.
Nicola Sturgeon said the question would be the same as in the last referendum in 2014: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”.
Ms Sturgeon said she had written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask for formal consent for the vote to be held.
She said she would press on with her plan if this was not granted by the UK government.
But she stressed that any referendum would need to be “indisputably lawful” and constitutional – with the Supreme Court being asked to rule on the potential legal issues around holding a vote without UK government approval.
Downing Street said it would examine the first minister’s proposals, but stressed that its position that “now is not the time” for another referendum had not changed.
Ms Sturgeon said Scotland’s top law officer, the Lord Advocate, has referred the case to the UK’s highest court, with court papers being served on UK government law officers on Tuesday afternoon.
The first minister said she hoped the court would be able to “deliver clarity and legal certainty in a timely manner” instead of passing the bill and then facing a legal challenge from opponents.
If the court rules that Holyrood does not have the power to hold a referendum, she said the next general election would become a “de facto referendum” with the SNP standing on a single issue of independence.
However, if the court rules in the Scottish government’s favour, Ms Sturgeon said it would move quickly to pass its Referendum Bill, which was published while she was speaking.