The SNP has published the argument it submitted to the UK Supreme Court case which could allow the Scottish Parliament to hold another referendum on independence.
Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC referred a prospective referendum Bill to the court in the summer, asking it to rule on whether Holyrood had the necessary powers to pass such a Bill.
Should the Court rule in favour of the Scottish Government, Nicola Sturgeon has said she hopes to hold an independence referendum in October next year.
The Lord Advocate’s argument rested heavily on any future referendum being advisory, as opposed to self executing, regarding a vote as a means to gauge the views of the Scottish people.
The SNP was granted the chance to intervene in the case by submitting a written submission, which the party has published on its website.
The right to self determination is key to the arguments made by the party, stating that it must inform the interpretation of the Scotland Act 1998 – which created the Scottish Parliament.
Self determination, the SNP’s lawyers said, was “of fundamental significance”, claiming that Scots should be considered “a people”, that has a right to determine “their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”, based on a UN resolution.
The submission concluded: “When answering the questions posed by the Lord Advocate, therefore, the submission of the intervener is that this court should find that the Scottish Parliament may legislate for a non-self-executing referendum on Scottish independence and, accordingly, the proposed Scottish independence referendum Bill does not relate to (1) the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England, or (2) the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the purposes of the Scotland Act 1998.”
While the SNP were clear they did not want to, and were barred by the court from, repeating arguments made by the Lord Advocate, the submission expressed their agreement with Ms Bain’s written case that was previously submitted.
But it took issue with the case from the UK Government, represented in the court by the Advocate General for Scotland.
In his case, Lord Stewart KC wrote that the contents of party manifestos are “a matter of politics (and party politics) rather than of law”.
The SNP response said: “The intervener rejects the suggestion that the basis on which a Government was elected by its electorate has nothing to do with the law.
“The rule of law and the trust of the electorate in its elected Government is wholly undermined by the suggestion that the mandate given to such a Government is to be regarded as nothing more than political rhetoric once that Government takes office.”
A spokeswoman for the UK Government said: “People across Scotland want both their Governments to be working together on the issues that matter to them and their families, not talking about another independence referendum.
“The UK Government’s clear view remains that a Bill legislating for a referendum on independence would be outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament.”
Oral arguments will be made in the case on October 11 and 12, and the Lord Advocate and Advocate General have two weeks to respond to the SNP filing.