Cameron has played into the SNP’s hands

In creating a team to try and secure a Tory victory in 2015, David Cameron may have tipped the balance in the debate on Scotland’s future - and not in the way he wants.

In creating a team to try and secure a Tory victory in 2015, David Cameron may have tipped the balance in the debate on Scotland’s future – and not in a good way

Has David Cameron just provided a shot in the arm of the Yes to Scottish independence campaign?

That’s certainly one way of looking at yesterday’s reshuffle.

As Tory women strolled up Downing Street in an effort to somehow gloss over this government’s abysmal record when it comes to women’s issues, the country now has a government and a cabinet that is more sceptical about the UK’s place in Europe.

As the new defence secretary Michael Fallon declared on the Today programme this morning, “it’s certainly a Eurosceptic cabinet”.

Responding to the reshuffle, especially the promotion of the arch Eurosceptic Philip Hammond to foreign secretary, Alex Salmond warned that “the clear risk for Scotland now is that we are dragged out of Europe against our wishes, with hugely damaging consequences for jobs and investment, if we do not take our future into our own hands”.

Unsurprisingly, he went on to conclude that “only a Yes vote in September can secure Scotland’s place in Europe”.

Putting aside the ambiguity around how long it may or may not take for an independent Scotland to take its place in the EU (if it is allowed that is), the reality is that the first minister’s words have more than a ring of truth to it.

Recent polling by ICM for the Scotsman has shown that if faced in September with the prospect of the UK being “very likely” to leave the European Union, support for independence increased by 3 per cent.

Commenting on the reshuffle in its editorial this morning, the Daily Record has warned that “this is a lurch to the right and a reshuffle that threw the future of the UK right back into the cement mixer”:

“Just when the Better Together side appear to have steadied their ship” the paper has commented, “Cameron’s short-sighted re-arrangement of his deck chairs puts the Union back into dangerous waters.”

In creating what he sees as a team to secure a Conservative victory in 2015, David Cameron might just have tipped the balance in the debate on Scotland’s future in a direction he might not have considered or indeed wants.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.