IT should be for the Scottish Parliament to decide “whether and when” indyref2 is held – despite the Supreme Court’s ruling that it does not have the power to do so, the Scottish Trades Union Congress has said.

The intervention from the STUC – which represents some 540,000 working people from trade unions across Scotland – comes after the UK’s highest court ruled that legislating for a second independence referendum was outwith Holyrood's competence.

In the wake of the court’s unanimous decision, the SNP Trade Union Group (SNPTUG) – which represents some 14,000 members within the party – called on the STUC to “reaffirm its support for the right of the Scottish people to decide their constitutional future”.

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The group’s convener, Bill Ramsay, said: “The right of Scotland’s people to determine the country’s future isn’t a party-political issue, it’s a democratic one. The STUC, as a forum for trade union solidarity and policy making across the country, has long recognised this. We hope they will take the opportunity to reaffirm that commitment.”

Ramsay called on the STUC to make a statement in support of the democratic right to choose, not to come out in support of independence or the Union.

He explained: “Every trade union affiliated to the STUC will have members who support independence and those who do not. This has led to a position where affiliates tend to not take a position on independence. That is an entirely understandable position, one accepted by all trade union activists who support independence that I have met and worked with over a period spanning four decades.”

“The decision of the Supreme Court is historic. It confirms that at present Westminster, and only Westminster, is the arbiter of the constitutional fate for the Scottish people. The so-called voluntary union between Scotland and England is no longer voluntary,” Ramsay added.

A spokesperson for the STUC said: “It was correct that the Scottish Government sought clarity on this issue and we, like all, respect the decision of the court.

“It’s longstanding policy of the STUC that it should be for the Scottish Parliament to determine whether and when to hold a second referendum. This remains the case.”

The STUC’s comments come after Scottish Secretary Alister Jack suggested that the Supreme Court’s ruling meant that elections to the parliament at Holyrood could never deliver a mandate for indyref2.

“You can’t have a mandate for something that we now know legally that you don’t have any power over," the Tory minister told Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee on Monday.