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Advocate General to represent UK Government in Indyref2 case

The case, to be heard in the Supreme Court, will decide whether Holyrood can run another independence referendum.

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Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain referred the issue to the Supreme Court last week (Aaron Chown/PA)

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain referred the issue to the Supreme Court last week (Aaron Chown/PA)

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain referred the issue to the Supreme Court last week (Aaron Chown/PA)

The UK’s Government’s top adviser on Scots law will have a formal role in the court case which will determine if Holyrood can stage its own independence referendum.

The Advocate General for Scotland, who advises UK ministers on matters of Scottish law, is to be a “formal party” when the Supreme Court considers the Scottish Government’s proposed referendum Bill.

It comes after the Scottish Government’s most senior legal adviser, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC, referred the matter to them, so judges there can determine if it is in Holyrood’s legislative competence.

In her filing, the Lord Advocate said she “does not have the necessary degree of confidence” the legislation would be in the gift of Holyrood.

We have been clear that now is not the time to be discussing another independence referendumUK Government spokeswoman

The UK Government has now submitted its initial response to the filing, and a spokeswoman has confirmed that Advocate General for Scotland Lord Stewart QC will become a formal party to the case.

It is understood the UK Government also asked the court if the referral was “premature”, given the usual process would be for the Scottish Secretary to refer legislation to the court after it had passed at Holyrood.

A provision of the Scotland Act allows for the Lord Advocate “to refer to the Supreme Court any devolution issue which is not the subject of proceedings”.

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “We have been clear that now is not the time to be discussing another independence referendum, when people across Scotland want both their Governments to be working together on the issues that matter to them and their families.”

“However, following the Lord Advocate’s referral of the Scottish Government’s draft Scottish Independence Referendum Bill, the UK Government has today lodged its initial response with the Supreme Court.

“The papers confirm that the Advocate General for Scotland will become a formal party to the case, and ask the Court to consider whether it should accept the Lord Advocate’s referral.”

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