If The Independent’s preview of Boris Johnson’s speech to the British Conservative Party conference is accurate, then it is interesting that he seems to acknowledge the possibility of a constitutional referendum in Scotland in 2020.
The bulk of Johnson’s address will, as expected, be an agglomeration of bluster and braggadocio, peppered with half-truths and less, all for the purpose of shifting blame for the Brexit shambles onto the EU. The tale that will be told is an epic saga of Boris the Bold standing alone against the massed forces of Johnny Foreigner intent on sullying British purity with their alien ways. Or, at least, that is how it will sound to Johnson and the Mad Brexiteers who worship and admire him almost as much as he worships and admires himself.
But it is the following passage which catches the eye of Scottish readers, and those frantically looking for something to divert from the awfulness of the Boris/Brexit nexus.
Jeremy Corbyn’s plan would turn 2020 into a year of “chaos and cacophony” with potentially two referendums, on EU membership and Scottish independence, the prime minister will claim.
Getting past the rather quaint notion of Jeremy Corbyn having a plan and not stopping to wonder what it is that has prevailed for the past three years if 2020 is to see the advent of “chaos and cacophony” , we come to the bit about a Scottish independence referendum. What can it mean.
This being Boris Johnson, it may mean nothing at all. Words and phrases tumble out of the malignant child clown’s head the way rubbish tips out of a bin lorry at the landfill site. (There’s a great analogy for the Tory conference in there somewhere. Imagine the media as voracious gulls swooping and squabbling over the mouldering morsels strewn by British politicians.)
But it is also possible that Johnson is purposefully letting something slip. We must never lose sight of the fact that much of the famous Boris buffoonery is a facade. Behind the motley lurks an undoubtedly defective but nonetheless darkly calculating mind. And behind that is gathered a coterie of tablet-wielding minders tasked with ensuring their master’s head is kept topped-up with banalities and inanities.
The reference to a Scottish independence referendum could imply that Johnson is preparing to grant a Section 30 order in what will doubtless be portrayed as a gracious and generous response to Nicola Sturgeon’s grovelling. (And before you get on my case, remember that this is us looking inside Johnson’s mind.)
It may be that Johnson has been sold the idea that he can wrong-foot the First Minister by denying her at least one line of grievance. (Boris’s mind!) He hints at conceding a Section 30 order to take the wind out of that particular sail and distract from the foundering hulk of his Brexit ‘plan’.
And why not? He has nothing to lose by granting a Section 30 order. And plenty to gain both from keeping the bait dangling for a while and ensuring that subsequent negotiations between the two governments are protracted and ultimately sunk by the British state’s unacceptable demands. Having the Section 30 process bubbling away like some noxious broth in the background might serve to spike the guns of those uppity Jocks silly demands for independence. (Again! Boris’s mind!) If they start going on about it, we just get our accomplices in the media to put out some stuff accusing them of pointless whining and of trying to sabotage the negotiations. There’s that blame-shifting again!
Meanwhile, as the Scottish Government is being tied in knots by British ‘negotiators’ making outlandish demands and the Scottish public are distracted by the Section 30 theatrics, the British state continues to roll out its ‘One Nation’ project to eradicate Scotland’s distinctive political culture and dismantle our democratic institutions..
Johnson’s words should not be dismissed and the drivelling of a dullard. At the very least, they hint at how relaxed he is about the granting of a Section 30 order. We would do well to reflect on why this might be.
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