Perhaps the Institute for Government could explain exactly what it is that makes continuing refusal of a Section 30 order “unsustainable”. What prevents the British government responding as it has indefinitely?
From Theresa May’s “now is not the time” to Boris Johnson’s regurgitation of the “once in a generation” nonsense, British Prime Ministers have shown themselves to be extremely adept at batting away formal and informal requests for a Section 30 order. They have sustained the position rather well. So, what is going to make it unsustainable? Neither the Institute for Government nor the SNP seem able to answer that question.
Neither do they address the matter of what happens if Westminster and Holyrood fail to approve the terms of a new referendum after a Section 30 order has been granted. Which seems strange given how obvious it is that it would be in the British state’s interest to have these negotiations fail, and being mindful of the numerous ways in which the British political elite might contrive to make them fail.
Far more of the Scottish Government’s strategy relies on the goodwill, good grace and good faith of the British establishment than I can possibly be comfortable with. But I am all too well aware that I am in a minority. Voice such concerns to a group of SNP members or Yes activists and the responses will generally fall into two forms of wishful thinking. Either the triumph of naive hope over bitter experience of insisting that “they [the British government] wouldn’t do that!”; or the triumph of faith over intellect implicit in the insistence that “Nicola will have a plan”.
Just don’t ask what that plan might look like. Not unless you want to be dragged into the garish wonderland of fantasy politics where the British political elite’s regard for public opinion is a factor and heroic politicians always have an unforeseen and unforeseeable trick up their sleeve which will save the day for the good guys just before the end credits roll.
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