A FORMER Scottish secretary has warned Humza Yousaf against backing Ash Regan’s indyref2 bill – saying it risks a repeat of Westminster-vetoed transgender law reforms.

LibDem MP Alistair Carmichael (below), who served as Scottish secretary during the independence referendum, said the Alba MSP’s Referendum Bill – one of her key demands to the First Minister in exchange for her support in a confidence vote – was a dead-end.

The National:

But Alba have hit back, saying the bill had the legal backing of a top KC and said it would “move the independence movement forward”.

Regan has offered her support for the First Minister if he backs her Referendum Bill, which has stalled despite the pro-independence majority of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.

It would legislate to allow the Scottish Government to hold a referendum on whether Scots believed Holyrood should have the power to hold indyref2; in effect, a referendum on a referendum.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf addresses resignation rumours as he vows to fight no-confidence moves

The bill was drafted in accordance with advice from constitutional law specialist Aidan O’Neill KC.

O’Neill has previously argued the Supreme Court’s decision to block indyref2 was an example of “judicial overreach”.

Carmichael told The National: “To my eye, this is clearly a matter that is reserved under the Scotland Act. The Supreme Court judgment last year was pretty clear on this. 

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“At a time when Scotland’s public services in transport, health and education are creaking and the Government has had to abandon its climate change targets, all this offers is more money spent tilting at windmills and distraction from the core business of government.”

But former justice secretary and Alba MP Kenny MacAskill (below) said it was “no surprise that the UK parties are opposed to it”.

The National: Kenny MacAskill

He said: “Obviously legal advice received by Scottish ministers cannot be discussed but as Alex Salmond has previously stated, a similar plan was well under way if David Cameron had attempted to block the first independence referendum.

“The Referendum Bill on the powers of the Scottish Parliament proposed by Ash Regan MSP was based on a supportive legal opinion by one of the country’s leading KCs.

“It’s a plan that can move the independence movement forward so it’s no surprise that the UK Parties are opposed to it.”

READ MORE: Inside the room as Humza Yousaf sacked the Scottish Greens from government

Advice obtained by Alba previously from O’Neill on the Supreme Court’s ruling on Nicola Sturgeon’s failed indyref2 plans accused judges of acting “by way of judicial fiat to protect the Union Parliament”.

While O’Neill said the Scottish Parliament could find success in legislating for indyref2 “by passing new referendum legislation with a newly worded question”, other experts have disagreed.

Professor Aileen McHarg of Durham University previously told this paper the bill would “almost certainly be seen as a proxy for a referendum on independence itself” and would also be struck down.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack (below) made history last January when he vetoed the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

The National: Alister Jack

It was the first piece of legislation passed by Holyrood to be blocked by the UK Government.

A spokesperson for the First Minister said: “We give proper consideration to all members' bills as and when they come forward.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK Government considers all Scottish Parliament legislation in the context of the devolution settlement.

“Any legislation brought forward would be considered in the usual way at the appropriate time.”

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