The ruling was as expected.

Under the Scotland Act 1998 the powers of the Scottish Parliament are limited and it cannot enact laws that 'relate' to the sovereignty of the UK Parliament at Westminster.

The unanimous decision of the five Supreme Court judges accepted the argument by the UK government that this proposed legislation was 'obviously' beyond the Scottish Parliament's powers in that it effected the union between England and Scotland.

Lawyers for the Scottish Parliament had argued that the proposed referendum was "consultative" and would not "automatically or directly" bring about the end of the union.

But Supreme Court President Lord Reed said the referendum would have important political consequences and the result would either strengthen or weaken the union.

The court ruled that the proposed legislation to hold a referendum in October 2023 would 'relate' to the powers reserved to the Westminster parliament and undermine its sovereignty.

Legally the British government has to give permission for a referendum under Section 30 of the Scotland Act which gives temporary powers to the Scottish Parliament to hold a vote under an Order in Council.

This judgement was foreseen by the Scottish National Party and their leader Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to make the next general election a de facto referendum in Scotland.

The speculation has been that the SNP will use the court decision and the British government's veto to increase support for independence.

Ms Sturgeon's first reaction was to tweet that the result "exposes as a myth any notion of the UK as a voluntary partnership".

The SNP and the Greens currently hold a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament but the general population remains divided.

And that is despite Scotland voting against Brexit and 12 years of a British Conservative government.