With the predictability of an atomic clock, Nicola Sturgeon has come out today condemning the Supreme Court which has reminded her that foreign affairs are not devolved, so Brexit is handled by the UK government on behalf of everyone in the UK. She concludes that ‘Scotland’s voice is not being heard and not being listened to within the UK’. She started wanting to find a compromise about Brexit, she said, trying to be reasonable. But she – or, rather Scotland because they are of course the same thing – faces ‘hard-right Brexit opinion’.
— STV News (@STVNews) 24 January 2017
In fact, the SNP is not coming up against the Prime Minister or the Tories but basic EU law. Diplomats in Brussels are baffled as to why the SNP are even talking about a non-member state either being in the single market or having a separate relationship with the EU. The Spanish are vehemently against this, and would veto. So Sturgeon’s demands are a charade, given their constitutional impossibility. She’s asking for something the EU would never allow, no matter what Theresa May says.
The SNP exists to take Scotland out of the UK. It has no interest in the smooth running of Brexit negotiations or the smooth running of the UK in general. The SNP’s only goal in Brexit talks is to establish a we-tried-but-they-betrayed-us narrative. And to blame the UK government, not Brussels, for the firm EU laws that preclude differential treatment for regions of non-member states.
The voices struggling to be heard in Scotland are those of the two-in-five voters who backed Brexit and now hear the SNP try to airbrush them out of the debate. It’s surprising Brexit support in Scotland was so high, given that every major political figure in the Scottish Parliament backed Remain. After the 2014 referendum, SNP supporters started referring to themselves as ‘the 45’ – ie, the 45 per cent who voted for separation. But no one talks about the two-in-five Brexit voters. They have become unScots, flies in the nationalist ointment.
Still, Ms Sturgeon is doing a pretty good job in her L’Ecosse, c’est moi speeches and her threats about a second referendum – which, polls show, she has little chance of winning. She’d need support at 60pc to risk another vote. But it’s her job to pretend otherwise – or to convince the London media otherwise – and she’s good at her job. We can expect much, much more of this in the months ahead.