Press urge Number 10 to respect the will of Holyrood
As Number 10 surveys the political landscape following Nicola Sturgeon’s declaration that she will seek the powers needed to hold a second independence referendum in Scotland, the papers north of the border are united in one sense – Theresa May cannot and should not disrupt the will of the Scottish parliament.
In its editorial today, The Scotsman notes that while the First Minister’s announcement yesterday was ‘no surprise’, it nevertheless ‘brings home the enormity of the political turmoil into which we are being thrown’.
Noting that while the Prime Minister has the legal right to scupper any referendum, the paper argues that she ‘should not do that’, and ultimately could not do so ‘without creating dangerous division’, and that includes allowing the SNP to have the vote within the time-frame it has laid down.
The UK government, the paper notes, ‘has to understand that what is now in motion has to be allowed, short of some last-minute agreement, or democracy will be failed’.
It concludes by declaring that any referendum would need to be fought on facts, and a proper understanding of the implications of remaining in a post-EU UK and the impact of a post UK Scotland.
The Herald warns that given the state of the polls, Nicola Sturgeon is embarking on ‘a massive gamble with the future of her party and with her own career’.
But it notes that in seizing the initiative managed to put Theresa May on the ‘back foot’ and shoe herself to be ‘Scotland’s most skilful politician and one who is unafraid of making bold gestures’.
In the Daily Record today, its editorial calls on the SNP to ‘honestly spell out their prospectus and the cost of independence’.
‘Once demanded and passed by the Scottish parliament’, the paper argues, ‘it will be almost impossible for Theresa May to decline the First Minister’s request to hold another IndyRef’.
Calling for a better debate that the one held the last time Scotland voted on its future, the Daily Record continues:
“Relying on a combination of vague promises and speculative economics dressed up as patriotic rhetoric was not enough last time and, despite the evidence of Brexit and Trump, it should not be adequate this time either.
That puts all the pressure on the SNP to honestly spell out their prospectus and the cost of independence.”
The independence supporting National paper meanwhile has focussed on the broken politics that means Scotland needs to go it alone:
“’Politics isn’t a game,’ David Mundell [Scottish Secretary] insisted on Channel 4 News last night, seemingly forgetting that we got here because of some ridiculous wager between the old Etonians in the last Tory Cabinet.
Meanwhile, all Labour have talked about for the last two years is Labour. They are obsessed with talking about themselves. And they are breathtakingly incompetent. […]
UK politics is broken. For those of us on this side of the constitutional debate, independence is simply a way of fixing it.”
In Northern Ireland, an editorial in the Belfast Telegraph today warns that Nicola Sturgeon’s actions ‘will raise the stakes for unionism here, and it is no surprise either that Sinn Fein has repeated its call for a border poll’. It continues:
“The issues around Brexit are complex, but also very clear. This was a nationwide referendum, the people have spoken, and they have voted to leave the EU.
As in Scotland, a majority of people in Northern Ireland wanted to stay in Europe, but that is one element of the result, and not the result itself.
However, we have significant elements of the result to consider in the province, including relations with the Republic and the realities of a hard or soft border.
Calls for a border poll make the possibility of agreement at Stormont less likely.”
Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot ForwardSign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.