It’s SNP conference season, and Nicola Sturgeon is riding high – or at least wants you to think she is.
The bullish saint of independence has fired a warning shot across Westminster’s bow, declaring that Scotland must remain a member of the European Single Market, come what may.
— Financial Times (@FT) October 13, 2016
Cue cheers from the serried nationalist ranks. Of course, in reality she can do no such thing. And, under the spin, her new stance on the EU is an admission of defeat.
Those paying attention on June 24th will remember the decisiveness with which Sturgeon acted – declaring that her priority was for Scotland not to leave at all:
— Sky News (@SkyNews) June 24, 2016
A few months has changed a lot. Her first step was a highly-publicised mission to Brussels, where she posed for the cameras alongside EU bosses Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz:
She tried to meet with Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, but was rebuffed, and ultimately her visit was a failure.
National governments including those of Germany, Denmark, Estonia and the Czech Republic refused to meet her – while the prime minister of Spain, at pains to slap down separatists at home – flatly said that Scotland had no prospect of staying.
— El País in English (@elpaisinenglish) June 30, 2016
Since then, Sturgeon has quietly backed away from her supposed determination to protect the interests of the Scottish people by staying in the EU, and no longer mentions it.
The Prime Minister may have a mandate to take England and Wales out of the EU but she has no mandate whatsoever to remove any part of the UK from the Single Market.
Again, she does not dare claim that May has no right to lead Scotland out of the EU – because it isn’t true.
Foreign affairs are not the Scottish Government’s responsibility. Sturgeon attempted to push her luck, but got slapped down.
Luckily for her, she doesn’t care.
Nicola Sturgeon’s aim is not really to keep Scotland in the EU – she happily pushed for Scottish independence in 2014 even at risk of being ejected from the bloc.
Nor, really, is it to preserve access to the single market.
Now, as ever, there is only one referendum the First Minister is interested in, the next one on Scottish independence. And, surprise, she’s pushing for it right now.
Her only aim is to stir up as much bad blood between Scotland and the rest of the UK as she can – and she will use every possible opportunity to make it happen.