THE eyes of the world were on Scotland on Wednesday as activists rallied around Scotland in response to the Supreme Court ruling a second independence referendum cannot go ahead without Westminster’s permission.

But what did the UK papers make of it?

Some left the UK's biggest constitutional story since the prorogation case off their front pages entirely, while others presented it as a humiliating defeat for the Scottish Government and the Yes movement.


Britain's best-read paper, given out for free in train stations and on buses, went with the punny headline: “Referendum indy bin”.

The National:

The Metro, owned by the same company as the right-wing Daily Mail (though it aims for a neutral stance), said a “furious” Nicola Sturgeon told the country that “democracy won’t be denied” and captioned a picture of her with the word “defeat”.

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Their story noted part of the judgment hinged on the court’s ruling that the SNP’s arguments that Scotland had a right to self determination did not cut it because Scots were not an “oppressed people” – but did not mention until later in the copy that the main thrust of Lord Reed’s ruling, which was that the proposed referendum bill was at odds with Westminster’s Scotland Act.

The i

The paper also focused on the First Minister’s reaction to the ruling, saying she was “defiant” after the Supreme Court’s “veto”.

The National:

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It also focused on what the ruling meant for the “future of the UK – and for north of the Border".

Financial Times

A small box on the side of the Financial Times’s front page trailed a piece on the ruling inside the paper, saying the ruling was a “setback” for the independence vote.

The National:

The paper also featured analysis from the top legal commentator David Allen Green, who said the ruling was “disappointing” for the Scottish Government but gave “ammunition” to the independence movement.

The Times

While the paper’s London edition featured only a trace mention of the ruling ahead of the event on Wednesday, it made the front page the day after, announcing that the court “deals a blow to Scots independence”.

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The National:

Sturgeon will “stake her political career” on the de-facto referendum plan, which it is expected will see the Scottish Government attempt to open independence negotiations on the basis of a pro-Yes majority of votes come the next election.

Radio silence

Many of the English editions of Britain’s biggest titles did not mention the story on their front pages, including The Sun, The Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.