What next for Scotland? An almighty constitutional clash

Scottish voters have made their choices. Now those in power must make their own.

Two governments will have two very different interpretations of these election results.

In Edinburgh, the new Scottish government - made up of the SNP, almost certainly supported by the Greens - will argue that a majority for pro-independence parties provides a clear mandate for a second referendum.

In London, the UK government will continue to argue that nothing has fundamentally changed. The new Holyrood parliament looks remarkably like the last, and the referendum in 2014 was once in a generation - now is not the time for another.

In practice, that means we are looking at an almighty constitutional clash. Not immediately, but certainly in the coming few years.

The route to a referendum is for the Scottish government to request a section 30 order from Westminster - permission to take constitutional matters into its own hands.

But with Boris Johnson repeatedly ruling that out, other options are likely to be explored.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she is willing to pass a law in the Scottish Parliament instead, paving the way for a referendum.

That move would likely land her in the Supreme Court, where yesterday she said she would quite happily invite Boris Johnson to challenge her.

The outcome of that legal wrangling is unclear - both sides point to precedents they feel favour their argument.

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In the immediate term, the Scottish government will focus on the pandemic, while using the time to build its case for a referendum.

I understand some in the SNP plan to launch an international lobbying mission - asking European governments to support their argument, embarrassing the UK government into giving way.

Whether or not they’ll succeed given many European capitals are concerned about their own separatist movements is debatable.

But at the heart of the argument is the question of mandates. Who has the most legitimate say? Legally, the power lies in Westminster. But, morally, arguments will be made the other way.