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Ponsonby: Independence might not be made in Scotland

The European elections highlighted a vast gap across the UK in attitudes towards the EU.

Legislation is being tabled for Indyref 2.
Legislation is being tabled for Indyref 2. STV

The result of the European elections merely underlined the unbridgeable gulf between attitudes to the EU in Scotland compared to England and Wales.

One parliament's crisis is another's opportunity. The Scottish Government points out that the country is about to be taken out of the EU against the will of the voters. That is an undeniable fact as is the constitutional position that the only Brexit vote that counts is the vote of the UK as a whole.

Devolution was meant to bridge what pre-1999 politicians referred to as a "democratic deficit" - i.e. policies being introduced in Scotland that electors didn't vote for. The only guarantee that this will never happen according to 'Yes' supporters is to back independence and that will be the core of the case for change in the next few years.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1438097-first-minister-to-make-indyref2-statement-on-wednesday/ | default

Today's legislation is part of the political choreography cranking up the rhetoric and the campaigning for IndyRef2. It is high in symbolism but short on hard politics. In essence, little of substance will change today.

If we are to take what both the UK and Scottish governments say, this narrative should pan out something like this - the Scottish Government will formally request the power to hold a new independence poll by late 2020. The Westminster government will say no. A constitutional stand-off and crisis will ensue. Not quite Catalonia but echoes of it.

The next Scottish Parliament elections in 2021 will be a poll on the attitude of the respective governments. Unionists will hope that the current pro-independence majority at Holyrood is lost and with it independence ambitions. If that majority is emboldened, the case for a second vote will be made in the most unambiguous of terms. It could very well be the springboard that gets the Yes vote over the line.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1438019-let-the-game-begin-who-will-take-the-tories-throne/ | default

Before the intergovernmental war over Indyref2, there is the matter of leaving the EU to sort out. Westminster and a new Conservative Prime Minister will now wade through the Brexit swamp as European leaders insist there will be no renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement, a fact that will be lost on the Tory leadership contenders who are likely to make a whole series of undeliverable promises in search of the top job.

One Tory peer told Channel 4 News last night she had to Google some of the contenders as she had never heard of them. Most of the runners have no chance and they know it. Their candidacies will be traded away at some point in the hope of promotion in the longer term. Self-interest not the national interest is the governing principle. For some their vaulting ambition is out of all proportion to their ability.

Nicola Sturgeon senses the longer the Brexit crisis stews the better it is for the independence cause. Some commentators have long believed that if independence is to happen it will be made not in Scotland but at Westminster as voters throughout the UK conclude the system of government is no longer fit for purpose.

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