CONSERVATIVE MP David Mundell says it is “time to move on” after a Supreme Court ruling shattered hopes of a new independence vote next year.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon planned to hold a referendum on Scotland’s future in October 2023.

But on Wednesday five justices unanimously decided that Holyrood cannot hold Indyref2 without Westminster’s consent.

Speaking after the ruling, Mr Mundell – MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale – said: “The Supreme Court’s definitive judgement is that the constitution is a matter reserved to the UK Parliament and that Nicola Sturgeon’s referendum bill would not be legal.

“It’s now time to move on and focus on the issues most important to people here and across Scotland like supporting our NHS, boosting education and growing the economy.”

As the court is the highest legal authority in the UK, there is no route of appeal.

Ms Sturgeon said she was disappointed but stressed that, while she respected the ruling, the judges do not make the law and only interpret it.

She added: “That is a hard pill for any supporter of independence, and surely indeed for any supporter of democracy, to swallow.”

The First Minister said that a referendum remained her preferred option, but in the absence of an agreement the SNP would use the next UK general election as a “de facto referendum”.

Downing Street said that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would seek to avoid another referendum.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, he said: “The people of Scotland want us to be working on fixing the major challenges that we collectively face, whether that’s the economy, supporting the NHS or indeed supporting Ukraine.

“Now is the time for politicians to work together and that’s what this government will do.”

On the court ruling, Tweeddale MSP Christine Grahame, of the SNP, said: “This decision was to be expected.

“This means that the UK Parliament has a permanent veto over a referendum, no matter that the majority in the Scottish Parliament were elected on a manifesto for a referendum.

“If the Conservatives were convinced they would win then they would call for a referendum. Blocking it tells me that they know they would lose.

“This is not democracy.”

Meanwhile, Mr Mundell's fellow Borders MP John Lamont, also of the Conservatives, said: “The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously. Now people in Scotland want both their governments to be concentrating all attention and resources on the issues that matter most to them.

“We are focused on restoring economic stability, getting people the help they need with their energy bills, and supporting our NHS.”

Rachael Hamilton, Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, said: “We welcome the Supreme Court’s judgement that the constitution is a matter reserved to the UK Parliament and that Nicola Sturgeon’s referendum bill would not be legal.

“The SNP-Green Government now needs to get on with the job of dealing with the real priorities that the people of the Scottish Borders have.”