Theresa May’s outbursts are so predictable one might almost believe Nicola Sturgeon was scripting them.
Not that the British PM is necessarily unaware of the situation. Even if she lacks the wits to realise that Sturgeon is playing her like an old fiddle, surely she has advisers who can tell her. Or has she got rid of all those ‘troublesome’ voices that impinge on her delusions of British exceptionalism with talk of Realpolitik? Is it possible that Theresa May is genuinely unaware she’s being danced into a corner by Scotland’s sure-footed First Minister?
It’s all rather reminiscent of Alex Salmond manipulating David Cameron into rejecting a ‘devo-max’ option on the ballot paper for the first independence referendum. Recognising that achieving a Yes vote would be a big enough challenge without splitting the constitutional reform vote, but realising that the Scottish Government couldn’t be seen to rule out what was potentially the most popular option, he simply got Cameron to do it for him. It wasn’t difficult. All Salmond had to do was drop a carefully phrased comment that the media would be bound to spin as him looking for a ‘second prize’ and the Pavlovian reaction from the British political establishment was all but guaranteed.
Salmond’s successor is playing a similar game. And, it must be said, the student may well outshine the master. Sturgeon’s Brexit ‘demands’ are carefully calculated to reflect the democratic will of Scotland’s people while also seeming reasonable to a broad swathe of Leave voters who nonetheless recognise the value of the single market. With the bonus that it all plays rather well in the EU.
The fact that these demands are almost certainly impossible to deliver suits the FM’s purposes just fine. After all, as we are constantly being reminded, she has no power to deliver a bespoke deal that preserves Scotland’s relationship with the EU. Theresa May has taken great delight in trumpeting the fact that only she has the authority to negotiate such a deal. So, when no such deal materialises, it is entirely her responsibility. She has either failed to secure the deal, or she has refused to even try. Either of which plays right into Nicola Sturgeon’s hands.
Day by day, the groundwork is being laid for #indyref2. (Or #indyrefB. But that’s another discussion.) It doesn’t really matter whether Theresa May is aware of what is happening or not. She is powerless to do anything about it. She has no options. Sturgeon, meanwhile, is rich in options. Think about it! Unlikely as it was that Cameron would not refuse to countenance a ‘devo-max’ option on the ballot, supposing he had, who would have got credit for including the option likely to win? Alex Salmond, of course! Having made such a fuss about it being his idea, the British establishment could not credibly claim the option was being included despite his demands.
Likewise, if Theresa May did somehow get a special deal for Scotland, it would be a case of Nicola Sturgeon standing up for Scotland’s interests and getting her way.
This is politics as art and science. And Sturgeon is showing herself to be a master of both.Views: 2960
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