26 September 2023

SCOTLAND: Call for UK to block referendum work

Start the conversation

The head of the United Kingdom’s Public Service, Simon Case is considering whether he can order Scottish officials to stop work on a second Scottish independence referendum.

Secretary for Scotland at Westminster, Alister Jack said Mr Case and Whitehall’s Propriety and Ethics team were examining whether it was appropriate for work to continue on independence in light of the Supreme Court’s decision that only the UK Government could allow a poll.

The issue was raised in the Scottish Affairs Committee in Westminster by the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, who accused Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government of “wasting money” on the case for independence.

“I think people in Scotland would be rightly concerned that there continues to be hundreds of thousands of pounds, indeed millions of pounds annually, spent by Civil Servants at the direction of the First Minister on what is now a party election issue,” Mr Ross said.

Mr Jack said the issue of Public Servants working on independence was “very serious and needed to be looked at again” after the court ruling.

The UK Supreme Court’s ruling has enraged Scottish nationalists who say the country’s future is for Scottish voters to decide.

It comes after an organisation called Scottish Business UK, describing itself as an independent, non-party voice for business leaders who oppose independence, threatened to bring a legal challenge against the Scottish Government over spending on referendum work.

About two dozen Public Servants are believed to be working on the First Minister’s updated prospectus for independence and three papers have already been published.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said in light of majority support within the Scottish Parliament for an independence referendum, Scottish Ministers remained ready to engage with the UK Government at any point on delivering that referendum.

“It is the role of the Civil Service to support the elected Government of the day in developing and implementing its policies,” the spokesperson said.

Edinburgh, 1 December 2022

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.