Boris Johnson fueled the campaign for Scottish independence by challenging the UK’s autonomous system. After twenty years of autonomic governments in Edinburgh and Wales – and the shaky shared Executive in Northern Ireland – the Conservative Prime Minister told a group of English parliamentarians that the decentralization of power was “Tony Blair’s worst mistake.” In the conversation, which was virtual and private, he added that “the return has been a disaster north of the border.”
The tabloid “The Sun” on Tuesday echoed the comments, which Downing Street did not deny, although it tried to reverse the scope of their meaning. “The prime minister has always supported the ‘devolution’ (of powers), but Blair could not anticipate the rise of separatism in Scotland. Autonomy is good, but it is not when it is used by separatists and nationalists to break the UK, ”said its spokesman.
Conditional justification fell flat. It failed to contain the political damage. Even the leader of the Conservatives in Scotland, Douglas Ross, distanced himself from his words. Autonomy is not a disaster. The disaster has been the constant obsession of the Scottish National Party (SNP) with another referendum, over jobs, schools and everything else, “he countered.
- Nicola Sturgeon – Chief Minister of Scotland.
“For the ‘Tories’ to say later that they pose no threat to the Scottish Parliament”
- Ian Murray – Head of Scottish Labor.
“It is confirmed that Johnson does not believe in the autonomic system and would risk the future of the United Kingdom”
The ‘no’ to independence lost by a difference of ten points -45 compared to 55% – in the sovereignist plebiscite of 2014. Six years later, Johnson refuses to negotiate or authorize a second popular consultation, a position also adopted by his predecessor, Theresa May. “The prime minister believes that we had what the referendum was in a generation and the result must be respected. He strongly rejects the SNP’s call to break up the UK, ”said his press office.
Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP and chief minister of Scotland, has ruled out the unilateral route to gaining independence. He is confident that a new victory in the regional elections, scheduled for May 2021, will force Johnson to negotiate the terms of a legitimate referendum that can acquire international resonance. The neglect of the unionist leader will now be linked to the separatist campaign. “These comments by the Prime Minister are worth marking for the next time the ‘Tories’ say that they do not pose a threat to the Scottish Parliament or, more unbelievably, that they support the transfer of new powers,” he wrote on his account. Twitter He added: “Independence is the only way to protect and strengthen the Scottish Parliament.”
The cause grows in Scotland
The unionist opposition joined the cascade of criticism. “This confirms that Johnson does not believe in the home rule system and would risk the future of the UK,” said Labor chief in Scotland, Ian Murray. Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat MP and former Scottish minister, recalled that Johnson is a negative factor for the Scottish electorate. “It is probably the biggest threat to the continuity of the UK,” he told the BBC.
The independence cause grows in Scotland since Johnson took control of the central government. Brexit and the Covid-19 crisis continue to push the curve to unprecedented heights. A majority of voters favor independence in the roughly thirty opinion polls that have been conducted on the matter since the summer. The average of ‘yes’ is around 54%, although a survey in October yielded a result of 58% in favor of the constitutional breakdown. “The trend is consistently toward independence,” confirmed veteran analyst John Curtice.
The prime minister’s spontaneous remarks seem to confirm the perception that Scots generally have of the Conservative Party. According to a poll based on a hypothetical scenario, published by ‘The National’, 77% believe that a conservative government would abolish or neutralize the power of the autonomous institutions if Scotland remains within the United Kingdom in the next ten years. In that scenario, 69% would support independence. More conventional studies project the absolute majority of the SNP in the autonomous regions of next year. Sturgeon currently governs in the minority with the support of the Green Party.