Brexit, Tony Blair said in February, had put the “ possibility of the break-up of the UK…back on the table, but this time with a context much more credible for the [Scottish] independence case.” Nicola Sturgeon pressed her case over the weeks that followed, insisting that a refusal to give her a second independence vote before Britain left the European Union would disrespect her “clear mandate” from Scottish voters and show that the “Tories fear the verdict of the Scottish people”. “ Now is not the time,” was all Theresa May would say in response.
The balance of power has shifted after the snap election, with the SNP leader today concluding that now is not the time for a second referendum after “reflecting” on a disastrous night for her party on which it lost 21 seats in Westminster. The Tories, by contrast, had been considering Sir Lynton Crosby’s advice to call the SNP’s bluff by agreeing to an early vote pre-Brexit in order to “secure support for the status quo”.
Scotland’s First Minister declared that her colleagues will now “put our shoulder to the wheel in seeking to influence the Brexit talks in a way that protects Scotland’s interests”, according to the First Minister. Tom Harris thinks that its policy on Brexit is “more likely” to have damaged its support more than its ceaseless fight for independence. “Attempts to secure a “soft” Brexit for the UK or even for Scotland alone, in some nebulous bespoke deal, therefore, raises suspicions that the SNP wish to keep Scotland in the EU in all but name,” he writes.
The SNP leader decided to “reset” her timetable for independence, suggesting that there won’t be one until the Brexit deal has been finalised, but she refused to take the prospect off the table outright. “So uncertainty continues, which will not be welcome news for business and the economy,” writes Allan Massie. “But for the moment Nicola Sturgeon has wriggled free of the hook on which she had impaled herself, and only her pride is wounded. She has escaped further damage by accepting that now is not the time – which is, of course, what Mrs May told her months ago.”
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