Sturgeon and Johnson: the polar opposites who make a Scottish exit seem inevitable | Rafael Behr


It is possible to take on the SNP, but the prime minister who championed Brexit will need someone else to make the case

Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon are not alike in much, but they both have a knack of defying gravity. The prime minister has blundered and blustered through the pandemic. His popularity has taken a knock, but not in proportion to the most serious charge: negligence costing tens of thousands of lives. A lot of voters let Johnson off on the lesser offence of being himself – obviously unserious; a stranger to discipline and responsibility, but elected for those very qualities.

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Sturgeon, by contrast, sounds capable in a crisis, and her ratings have soared. But her earnest empathy has not made the pandemic much less deadly in Scotland. Meanwhile, the first minister is mired in a scandal involving the initial sexual harassment allegations against Alex Salmond, her predecessor – claims that led eventually to his trial and acquittal. The current SNP leadership is accused of collusion, cover-up and cynical manipulation of events for political gain.

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