‘Dead and buried!’ Ian Blackford rages at Sunak after IndyRef2 blocked by Supreme Court

Ian Blackford has raged at Rishi Sunak after Nicola Sturgeon lost her latest bid for Scottish independence. The SNP Westminster leader hit out during Prime Minister’s Questions just hours after the UK Supreme Court ruled the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for a second referendum without Rishi Sunak’s backing. 

Mr Blackford fumed that the ruling shows the “very idea that the UK is a voluntary union of nations is now dead and buried”.

He said: “This morning the Supreme Court clarified a point of law but the very point of democracy in this union is now at stake.

“And democracy will not be denied because whether Westminster likes it or not last year the people of Scotland voted for a Scottish Parliament with a majority and the mandate to deliver an independence referendum.

“The Prime Minister has every right to oppose independence, he has no right to deny democracy to the people of Scotland.

“If the Prime Minister keeps blocking that referendum will he at least be honest and confirm that the very idea that the UK is a voluntary union of nations is now dead and buried?”

Mr Sunak replied: “We respect the clear and definitive ruling of the Supreme Court of the UK.

“I think the people of Scotland want us to be working on fixing the major challenges we collectively face whether that’s the economy, supporting the NHS or indeed supporting Ukraine.

“Now is the time for politicians to work together and that’s what this Government will do.”

Mr Blackford asked: “It is right that we respect the decision of the court, but the Prime Minister can’t claim to respect the rule of law and then deny democracy in the very same breath.

“If democracy is to matter, if elections matter, then mandates matter.

“Since 2014 the SNP has won eight elections in a row, last year we won a landslide.

“The Scottish Parliament now has the biggest majority for an independence referendum in the history of devolution.

“The Prime Minister doesn’t even have a personal mandate to sit in 10 Downing Street.

“What right does a man with no mandate have to deny Scottish democracy?”

Mr Sunak replied: “When it comes to Scottish democracy, I’m pleased that the Scottish Government has one of the most powerful devolved assemblies anywhere in the world.

“I was pleased, very shortly after becoming Prime Minister, to be the first Prime Minister in over a decade to attend the council, to sit down with the First Minister, to explore ways in which we can work together with the Scottish Government to deliver for the people of Scotland.

“Whether that’s delivering on growth deals, delivering freeports or ensuring that the £1.5 billion of extra Barnett money can go towards supporting public services. That’s what we’re committed to doing in Scotland.”

In an urgent question following PMQs, Mr Blackford insisted there is a “massive question of democracy” that needs to be answered following the Supreme Court’s ruling.

He said: “It is right that the UK Government answers questions today and answers them quickly because this morning the Supreme Court dealt with the question of law. There is now a massive question of democracy.

“Some of the Westminster parties are already wildly celebrating this morning’s decision. But I think it is safe to say that their thoughtless triumphalism won’t last very long because this judgment raises profound and deeply uncomfortable questions about the basis of the future of the United Kingdom.

“The biggest question of all is how the Prime Minister can ever again repeat the myth that the United Kingdom is a voluntary union of nations?”

Mr Blackford referenced the Smith Commission set up in the wake of the 2014 independence referendum, quoting that is said nothing could “prevent Scotland becoming an independent country should the people of Scotland so choose”.

He asked: “If his Government is still committed to that promise, will he urgently amend the Scotland Act to ensure that the Scottish people have the right to choose our own future?”

But Scotland Secretary Alister Jack told the Commons: “At this time of unprecedented challenges, the benefits of being part of the UK have never been more apparent.

“It is important now that we move on from constitutional issues to focus on tackling our shared challenges.

“I therefore welcome the Supreme Court’s judgement and call on the Scottish Government to set aside these divisive constitutional issues so we can work together focusing all of our attention and resources on the key issues that matter to the people of Scotland.

“The UK is one of the most successful political and economic unions in the world.

“By promoting and protecting its combined strengths we are buildings on hundreds of years of partnership and shared history.

“When we work together as one United Kingdom we are safer, stronger and more prosperous.”

It comes after the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for a second independence referendum.

In a judgment on Wednesday, a panel of five judges concluded that going ahead with a fresh vote would be beyond the powers of Holyrood, as it related to “reserved matters” under the Scotland Act.