Scottish independence isn't going away. Will the Tories be its curators – or victims? | Simon Jenkins


Boris Johnson cannot deny the Scots the government they want – and helping them achieve it will save him much trouble

Passionate unionist Boris Johnson must be thanking his lucky stars for the spat between the SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, and her predecessor, Alex Salmond. There was a sudden dip to 50-50 this week in poll support for Scottish independence.

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But I doubt if it will last. Whatever happens in the coming May elections to the Scottish parliament, the issue of independence is not going away. Once the idea takes hold of a nation’s political soul it is never satisfied until, in some sense, it is achieved. That has been the lesson elsewhere in Europe, of Ireland, of the former nations of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. Britain’s quarter-hearted devolution in 2000 has not worked, because London could not be trusted to keep its sticky hands off the levers of central power. This week alone Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, took control of all post-pandemic subsidies, deciding who gets what aid and which industries are financed. Unpopular lockdown was devolved to Edinburgh, nice recovery is centralised to London.

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