­­Is Nicola Sturgeon’s brinkmanship over a second Scottish independence referendum going to backfire?

Nicola Sturgeon Holds Public Discussion With Scotland's EU Nationals Post-Brexit
Sturgeon has repeatedly threatened a second independence vote (Source: Getty)

Alex Deane, a City of London common councilman, says Yes.

Nicola Sturgeon’s referendum demands remind me of nothing so much as Homer Simpson, accustomed to getting his way by challenging anyone and everyone to a duel. The problem is that eventually someone may call your bluff.

When the referendum demands come to a head, either way Sturgeon loses. Either she plays her best cards but still doesn’t secure the referendum – and is shown to lack the chops to deliver on her central demand. Or she gets one, and – as I am sure would happen in the current climate – she loses.

That really would seal the question of independence for a generation, which is what Alex Salmond promised with the first vote, thereby burying the SNP’s fortunes along with it.

Moreover, Theresa May is right to accuse the Scottish National Party of “tunnel vision”, of neglecting domestic politics – for which they are responsible as the holders of power in Holyrood – in favour of their independence campaign. They stand to lose all that they have gained by so doing.

Mark Diffley, research director at Ipsos Mori Scotland, says No.

A second Scottish independence referendum is closer than ever. Since the Brexit vote, Nicola Sturgeon has spoken frequently of Indyref2 being inevitable and it is now not a matter of if, but when. We may hear more about it at the SNP Spring conference next week.

Of course, the UK government must agree to a second vote and – publicly at least – remains opposed, citing numerous polls which point to a lack of support among Scots. I suspect some of that opposition consists of Yes voters who yearn for another shot, but fear losing.

In any case, once campaigning starts, we will quickly move on to debating the issues, rather than who supports or opposes the referendum taking place, as occurred in 2014. And nothing will add more to the sense of Westminster ignoring Scotland than the government playing hardball, though it may insist on delaying until after Brexit negotiations are concluded.

Indyref2 in 2018 or 2019? Definitely.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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