by Atul Hatwal
There are three stages to processing the news that we seem to be heading for a sequel to the Scottish independence referendum.
Stage one: why the shock.
What is surprising about a Scottish nationalist politician calling for independence from the rest of the UK? Surely, the clue is in Nicola Sturgeon’s party title.
Brexit offers a justifiable opening to ask the question which was meant to have been answered for a generation. The fundamental circumstances of Britain’s position have changed and the post-2014 settlement was predicated on a United Kingdom in Europe.
Stage two: Sturgeon has miscalculated.
But once the campaign begins, the same economic pressures will be brought to bear again on the electorate. Set aside for a moment the ludicrous hypocrisy of a Tory Brexiteer government running a facsimile of the Remain campaign’s economic arguments about leaving a union, the threat that will be articulated is not only real but potentially greater than in 2014.
Many will talk about the importance of identity and nationalism but that doesn’t pay the mortgage or put food on the table.
There was a reason the SNP lost in 2014 by 10%: the economy, stupid.
Stage three: hang on, what if the UK is about to crash out of the EU without a deal?
The kicker for unionists comes courtesy of the Tory government’s approach to Brexit.
At the weekend, Boris Johnson was on our screens giving his considered view as Foreign Secretary that exiting the EU without a deal would be just fine.
If, and it’s a big if, the SNP could promise some form of ongoing EU membership while the rest of the UK wilfully stepped off the trade cliff, babbling about empire, the nineteenth century buccaneer spirit and British pluck, which outcome would represent the greatest economic danger for Scotland: independence or remaining in the UK?