The Scottish Government's mandate to hold a referendum - Summary
Following the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections, the Scottish Government's mandate to hold a referendum on independence was respected by the UK Government and Westminster.
A process was agreed which meant that the 2014 referendum was legislated for in Scotland, that the franchise was extended to those aged 16 and over, including EU citizens living in Scotland. That process was accepted by all participants as legal, decisive and fair.
But there has been a material change of circumstances since 2014, and the Scottish Government has a new electoral mandate to hold a referendum on independence.
This material change of circumstance is based on:
- the prospect of Scotland leaving the EU against its will, and
- what EU exit has revealed about Scotland's position within the UK.
Commitments were made during the independence referendum that the nations of the UK would be treated as a 'partnership of equals'; and commitments were made in response to the EU referendum that Scotland's views would be respected in the process of EU exit.
But the decisions of the people, parliament and government of Scotland have been ignored.
Following the precedent of 2011, the UK Government has a democratic duty to recognise the Scottish Government's mandate and take steps to ensure that a referendum legislated for in Scotland can take place.
The Scottish Government is committed to delivering a referendum on independence that is beyond legal challenge and held to the highest international standards, including through the Referendums (Scotland) Bill.