THE Scottish Parliament has backed a motion calling on the UK Government to “respect the right” of the Scottish people to choose their own future following the Supreme Court ruling.

In November last year, the UK’s highest court ruled that Holyrood did not have the necessary competence to legislate for a referendum on independence as it related to a reserved matter, the constitution.

In the first debate of 2023, the Scottish Government chose to focus on the route to independence, much to the fury of Tory and Labour MSPs. The Tories mostly focused on the NHS, following Humza Yousaf’s announcement, while Labour argued that a win for them at the next General Election would bring the constitutional change that Scots want.

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Angus Robertson, the Constitution Secretary, moved a motion on behalf of the Government which acknowledged the Supreme Court decision but “reaffirms its belief that people in Scotland have the sovereign right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs”.

The motion additionally added that the UK should be a “voluntary association of nations” and that Westminster should be open to any devolved nation who wishes to “withdraw from the Union”.

It ends by demanding the UK Government respect the right of Scots to choose their own constitutional future. It passed overwhelmingly due to the majority of pro-independence MSPs in the chamber, with MSPs voting Yes 70, No 54.

Opening the debate, which lasted around an hour and a half, Robertson told MSPs: “When you seek to deny people what they have voted for, you risk undermining democracy itself.

“This places obligations on those of us who win elections, we have to do our best to deliver the mandates that we are given.”

Robertson added that those who lose elections should respect the results, acknowledge them and accept the right of the winner “to deliver the commitments that they were elected on”.

“Not doing that, denying democracy instead, is a dangerous thing, but it is a thing people in Scotland are becoming increasingly accustomed to,” he added.

Other MSPs voiced why they believe independence is critical for Scotland. Emma Roddick, SNP, said that the “immoral” attitudes from pro-Union parties make the Yes side’s case, while Ross Greer, Scottish Green MSP, said there are around half a million Scots, aged under 25, who have never had a vote on independence.

“The Tories and Labour have trashed the democratic norm for no better reason than they lost the election and they don’t like who and what the public chose instead,” Greer said.

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Christine Grahame, SNP, also gave an impassioned speech asking how Scotland can hold indyref2 if repeated mandates from elections are not enough. She said: “If ballot box results don’t count, what does?”

Earlier in the afternoon, Tory MSP Sandesh Gulhane and Labour MSP Neil Bibby both tried to move amendments to the parliamentary timetable to have the debate scrapped. Both amendments fell, and the debate went ahead.

Donald Cameron, who opened for the Tories, moved an amendment which would change the wording of the motion to state the parliament recognises the result of the 2014 referendum and that independence is not a priority. It was not agreed, with MSPs voting Yes 30, No 94.

Cameron claimed that having the first debate of 2023 on independence was “nothing short of shameful” and said the Supreme Court was “unequivocally clear” that in law Holyrood doesn’t have the powers to hold one. Cameron and other Tory MPs spent a large swathe of their contributions talking about the NHS crisis, in protest at the debate topic.

He said: “It may be that this government has completely run out of new ideas of how to deliver for the people of Scotland.

“It may be that the SNP only want to talk about the constitution because they’ve failed monumentally elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, Labour MSP Sarah Boyack’s amendment would have changed the motion to instead read that Scotland is frustrated by “two governments more focused on division and their own priorities”.

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Boyack claimed that “even SNP voters don’t want independence referendum this autumn”, and also spoke at length on the NHS. She claimed that Scottish Labour supports constitutional change and not the status quo, and that a UK Labour government could deliver it.

When Boyack mentioned constitutional change through Gordon Brown’s report on the future of the UK, groaning and heckling could be heard from the SNP benches. Her motion was not agreed, with MSPs voting Yes 24 and No 100.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, LibDem, also spoke on the NHS, and said the only mandate he respected was the one given to him by the voters of Edinburgh Western.

The deputy presiding officer intervened during his contribution to tell off Robertson for giving a “running commentary” on what Cole-Hamilton was saying.