Independence rally: Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland's voice will not be silenced after Supreme Court ruling

First Minister addresses crowds outside Scottish Parliament

The "voice of the Scottish people" will not be silenced, Nicola Sturgeon has told independence supporters after the UK's highest court ruled Holyrood could not legislate for a referendum.

The Supreme Court announced a unanimous decision on Wednesday stating the Scottish Parliament did not have the necessary powers to hold a vote on separation.

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But the First Minister struck an upbeat tone during a rally outside the parliament on Wednesday evening, as she said the UK was "not a voluntary partnership of nations".

Nicola Sturgeon addressed a rally outside the Scottish Parliament following the UK Supreme Court ruling that Holyrood does not have the power to hold a second independence referendum. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

"Any partnership in any walk of life that requires one party to seek the consent of another to choose its own future is not voluntary – it is not a partnership at all," she said.

"And while today's ruling may create temporary relief on the part of unionist politicians and parties, they should know the hardest questions that have been posed today are questions for them."

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The First Minister added: "The Westminster establishment may think they can block a referendum, but let me be clear: no establishment, Westminster or otherwise, will ever silence the voice of the Scottish people."

The SNP leader added that "our job as Scotland's peaceful, civic, inclusive, internationalist independence movement is the same today as it was yesterday".

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She ended her speech, telling the hundreds gathered outside Holyrood: "Let's get to it, my friends, let's win our independence and build the Scotland we know is possible."

Earlier, Ms Sturgeon vowed to use the next general election to try to win Scottish independence, saying: "As long as there is breath in my body, I refuse to give up on the basic principle of democracy."

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And she announced a special SNP conference will be held in the new year "to discuss and agree the detail of a proposed de facto referendum", using the next UK election. She said: "No party can dictate the basis on which people cast their votes. But a party can be, indeed should be, crystal clear about the purpose for which it is seeking popular support. In this case, for the SNP that will be to establish, just as in a referendum, majority support in Scotland for independence so that we can then achieve independence."

Ms Sturgeon said the SNP will also "launch and mobilise a major campaign in defence of Scottish democracy". She said: “We should be in no doubt, as of today democracy is what is at stake. This is no longer about whether Scotland becomes independent, vital though that decision is. It is now more fundamental. It is now about whether or not we even have the basic democratic right to choose our own future. Indeed from today the independence movement is as much about democracy as it is about independence."