The UK Supreme Court will deliver its crucial decision on whether Holyrood has the power to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence next week.
The judgment in the case, who heard legal arguments from the British and Scottish governments last monthwill be delivered on Wednesday, November 23 at 9:45 a.m.
The decision comes ahead of schedule, with most legal observers assuming the court won’t hand down its judgment until shortly before Christmas or early in the New Year.
That’s partly because Chief Justice Lord Reed said at the start of the hearing in October that he expected it would be “a few months” before a ruling could be made. delivered, with 8,000 pages of written material to review.
The court is being asked to decide whether the Scottish Government’s bill clearing the way for a referendum goes beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament.
The outcome of the case will determine whether a second referendum will be held on October 19 next year, as Nicholas Sturgeon wishes, or whether it will be postponed indefinitely.
At the SNP conference in OctoberNicola Sturgeon has told supporters that if the Scottish government loses the case, the referendum scheduled for next year will be cancelled.
If that happens, the Prime Minister intends to press ahead with her Plan B of using the 2024 general election as a “de facto” referendum.
This would involve the SNP and other pro-independence parties campaigning on the issue of independence alone and trying to secure at least 50.1% of the vote.
“If the court decides as we hope, on October 19 next year, there will be a referendum on independencesaid Ms Sturgeon last month.
“And if the court does not decide so? First, and of course, we will respect that judgment. We believe in the rule of law.
The case was brought by the Scottish government because the UK government repeatedly refused to grant Holyrood the power to hold indyref2, known as the Section 30 order.
This happened before the first referendum in 2014, when David Cameron signed a deal with Alex Salmond, who led the SNP to a majority in the Scottish Parliament in 2011.
The Supreme Court will also consider whether the case was dismissed prematurely by the Scottish Government as the Referendum Bill is still in draft form.
However, even if he deems this to be premature, he could still offer a view on the central question of whether or not indyref2 falls within the powers of Holyrood.