The apparent shift today in Boris Johnson’s anti independence referendum stance from ‘‘not ever’ to ‘not now’ is nothing more than a desperate bid to play for time. If he believes it will distract voters from his extremist anti-democratic actions he is deluded.
The Prime Minister is as intractably opposed to indyref2 as ever but has become aware that his unyeilding stance is playing badly in a country which already disliked him very much indeed.
In his speech at today’s Conservative Party conference he used the pandemic as his latest excuse for refusing to agree a Section 30 order which would replicate the mechanism through which the 2014 referendum was held. He believes this 'softer' approach has a better chance of winning over Scottish voters.
It’s nonsense of course. Scotland dislikes the prime minister for many other reasons as well as his refusal to listen to the majority support for the country’s right to choose its own future.
The dangerous fiasco that is Brexit, for instance, which we learned just days ago has laid waste to Scotland’s trade with the EU, at a huge cost.
And the party’s brutal arrogance that makes it think it can impose its will on a country which has rejected it at the ballot box again and again.
The Prime Minister’s ultimate goal remains to stop the referendum by hook or by crook. He will not agree to a Section 30 order at any time. The pandemic excuse is a ruse. He knows very well that no one is suggesting holding a referendum until Covid recedes.
However, he hopes that by pretending to be 'reasonable' he will stop a pro-independence majority in the May Scottish election and therefore not have to face the issue at all. Then he will begin a task that he has already started ... the destruction of the Scottish Parliament and devolution itself.
Boris Johnson is fooling no one. He does not have the power to block a second independence referendum.
The return of a Yes-voting majority of MSPs is an overwhelming mandate for a referendum that simply cannot be ignored by Westminster if the UK can in any way claim to be a democratic country
The Scottish National Party and the Scottish Greens will enter the election with clear commitments to hold a second referendum in their manifestos. Virtually every opinion poll suggests the SNP will win that election with a clear majority and every opinion poll states that there will be a significant pro-Yes majority.
Therefore it cannot be denied that the Scottish people will have voted in favour of that referendum going ahead. The return of a Yes-voting majority of MSPs is an overwhelming mandate for a referendum that simply cannot be ignored by Westminster if the UK can in any way claim to be a democratic country.
Remember … the voting system for the Scottish parliament was designed to make a majority government almost impossible. If the SNP manage to win an that outright majority then we have carbon copy of the mandate that led to the 2014 referendum and those facts cannot be denied. Brexit has already been a major challenge to that democracy. It has torn Scotland out of Europe expressly against its wishes.
Despite that, the Scottish government has bent over backwards to find a solution to the Brexit problem that reflects Scotland’s vote while still respecting the overall referendum result. Every attempt has been ruled out by a Westminster government which has ignored and insulted Scotland’s elected representatives at every turn. The results have been catastrophic.
The SNP’s preferred route to independence is through a referendum supported by a Section 30 order passed by Westminster. That was the arrangement in 2014, agreed by a Conservative Prime Minist
But that is not the only route to a referendum. Our right to decide our country’s future cannot be vetoed by a UK government we did not vote for.
If it refuses to grant a Section 30 we will hold a referendum anyway. That referendum will be entirely legal and backed by the democratically expressed will of the Scottish people. It recognises that our membership of the Union does not – indeed, must not - take away our democratic rights. Boris Johnson can challenge it in the courts if he likes. He will not win.
This is another attack on the powers of the Scottish parliament. Holyrood is Scotland’s parliament, this is Scotland’s election and it is Scotland’s choice whether to have a referendum or not
Believe in Scotland campaign director Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp responded: ‘According to a poll last year 87% of Scottish voters were more likely to vote for independence because of Boris Johnson. It’s possible that he is aiming for 90% plus. This is another attack on the powers of the Scottish parliament. Holyrood is Scotland’s parliament, this is Scotland’s election and it is Scotland’s choice whether to have a referendum or not.
‘By dictating to Scotland and attacking our democratic right to chose our own future he is helping to make the case for independence unanswerable, whilst also ensuring that an alternative route to independence will become acceptable to the Scottish voters and also to the international community. He thinks his statement is a master stroke but he is in reality just blundering into a trap set by Scottish government.'
The Scottish government has exhausted every avenue to hold a referendum under the same procedure as 2014 and Westminster is now turning its back on the democratic process. No country in the world which adheres to the principles of democracy could do anything other than recognise the authority of the election mandate for the vote. We will have our referendum. We will win it. And we will create the country we dream of living in. And there is nothing Boris Johnson or any of his cabinet can do to deny us that opportunity.