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Indyref2 Bill “directly” refers to reserved matters, Supreme Court said

The Scottish Government’s proposed independence referendum bill relates “directly and directly” to a matter reserved for Westminster, the Supreme Court has been told.

The UK Government’s legal representative said it was “obvious” that the Scottish Parliament would not have the power to legislate for a second referendum.

Sir James Eadie KC also said the issue of jurisdiction of the Scottish Independence Referendum Act should not be “outsourced” to the Supreme Court.

However, the Lord Advocate, the Scottish Government’s most senior magistrate, said his characterization of the case was “so unfair” and that the matter was only referred to the court after “detailed consideration”.

On Wednesday, the two sides presented their final legal arguments in a two-day hearing before five Supreme Court justices in London.

When the trial was over, the President of the Court, Lord Reed, said they would announce their verdict “as soon as possible”.

He previously said it would be “a few months” before the court could come to a decision.

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC has asked judges to clarify whether Holyrood has the legal authority to advance the law.

On Wednesday morning, Sir James continued his arguments on behalf of the Advocate General for Scotland, saying the Lord Advocate’s motion risked “dragging the Court into the political process”.

He argued the bill was too early for the court to make a decision.

He told the court that a person responsible for a bill in Holyrood would have to make a “positive” statement that it came under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Parliament.

“It’s up to the person responsible for the law to form that view,” he said, adding that it’s not “easily handed over to the Supreme Court.”

On the jurisdiction of the proposed Bill, he said: “It is not that the Lord Advocate cannot answer the question in Section 31.1 (of the Scotland Act) in this case.

“The difficulty is that she can and has responded to that.

“The problem for them is that the Scottish Government does not like the answer they have given on competence.”

He later told the court that the proposed bill was “obviously, directly and directly” a matter reserved for Westminster – the union between Scotland and England.

He said: “The impact and repercussions of Scottish independence would be felt across the UK.

“All parts of the UK have an interest in this issue, not just Scotland.

“It’s obvious why it’s reserved for the UK Parliament. It is vital for the UK as a whole.

“It is equally obvious why the union cannot be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

“It would fundamentally go against the purpose of decentralization to give powers to the Scottish Parliament within the Union.”

He said the Lord Advocate’s argument that the bill made no reference to the union was “unsustainable”.

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