The SNP has been urged to end its “referendum obsession” following the Supreme Court’s ruling on the legality of a second vote on Scottish independence.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross welcomed the decision by the UK’s highest court that Holyrood would need Westminster’s consent to legislate on the decisive constitutional issue.
He said: “This was a clear and unequivocal verdict delivered by the highest court in the country – and the SNP Government and their supporters must respect it.
“Nicola Sturgeon insisted on taking this case to the Supreme Court at the cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Scottish taxpayer – and this ruling confirms that it was a waste of time and money.
Baroness Davidson, a former Scottish Tory leader, said the court’s ruling was not a surprise and she welcomed its “unanimity” and “clarity”.
She added on Twitter: “No doubt the SNP will try to leverage this ruling for further grievance. If only the huge effort, capacity & resource spent bidding to rerun the original vote had been put into health, education & the economy.”
But former first minister Alex Salmond, who led the Scottish Government into the 2014 independence referendum, said democracy could be “postponed” but not “denied”.
He also hit out at the decision to refer the case to the Supreme Court in the first place, insisting the Scottish Parliament should have instead forced the UK Government to challenge the indyref2 legislation.
He said: “The decision of the Supreme Court today is the result of a bad gamble that hasn’t paid off. What should have happened was the Scottish Parliament should have passed the legislation for an independence referendum and forced the UK Government to be the ones that challenged it.
“Unionists should beware in their glee as the lesson of history is that you can postpone democracy, but you cannot deny it.
“The Scottish Government now has the responsibility to find a way forward. They have led the national movement down a complete blind alley to the Supreme Court which astonishingly has gone as far as rejecting Scotland’s right of self-determination.
“That’s what happens when you go to the wrong court with the wrong question.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the ruling will allow the Scottish Government to now focus on the cost and NHS crises.
He said: “The Supreme Court’s answer was clear and I thank them for their speedy work in this case.
“We must now focus on the problem facing our country, from rising bills to the crisis in our NHS.
“One thing is clear, there is a majority in Scotland and across the UK for change.
“Change is coming – and Scotland will lead the way in helping to elect the Labour government that kicks the Tories out of office.”
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “We note and respect the unanimous ruling from the Supreme Court today.
“People in Scotland want both their governments to be concentrating all attention and resources on the issues that matter most to them.
“That’s why we are focused on issues like restoring economic stability, getting people the help they need with their energy bills, and supporting our NHS.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the court’s verdict was an “embarrassing defeat” for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
He said: “Scores of legal experts warned that the law is clear and that this case was a complete waste of Supreme Court time and taxpayers’ money, but the Scottish Government would not listen.
“It has been a terrible use of funds at a time when every penny should be squeezed to help people through the cost-of-living crisis.
“Breaking up the UK simply isn’t a priority for people opening their bills with dread or struggling to get the treatment they need.
“It is time the SNP Government finally focus on what really matters. What Scotland needs now is new hope not old divisions.”
But the Radical Independence Campaign said the judgment is a “dark day for democracy” which signals “the rotten, undemocratic nature of our broken, union state”.
Its statement added: “The unelected judges of the UK Supreme Court are saying that the Scottish Parliament is permanently vassalled to Westminster and its undemocratic parliament, government and state – that the democratic rights of the Scottish people do not matter and can be ignored.”