Friday, 14 October 2016

The Guardian: Nicola Sturgeon’s manoeuvres offer a chance to shape Brexit

The Guardian: Nicola Sturgeon’s manoeuvres offer a chance to shape Brexit

by Martin Kettle

"Much of this is down to May’s determined embrace of Brexit and the appointment of the Brexiteers to key posts in the government. What seemed tactically adept in the summer now seems more of a ball and chain, largely because of the studied vagueness of the government’s strategy. But the real catalyst is the gradual dissolution of economic confidence across the UK.

Those who said that the foreign exchange markets were the only real opposition to the May government may have had a point a week ago. But a lot has changed in a week. The continuing slide in the pound, the £66bn annual price tag for a hard Brexit, and then the temporary disappearance of Marmite from Tesco shelves all added to the sense that the May government is fiddling while British business burns. Public opinion has not had remorse about the referendum result yet, but that may change, opening up some political space for opponents of Brexit.

This presents a real rallying opportunity for pro-European and soft-Brexit forces alike. Sturgeon sniffs that opportunity. But the battle will be fought at Westminster, not Holyrood. This is uncomfortable from an SNP perspective; the party is always happiest haranguing from its home base at Holyrood, not wheeling and dealing at distant Westminster. But the votes and the power to change things are at Westminster and Whitehall. The election this week of the party’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson as Sturgeon’s new deputy is another reminder that the centre of gravity of Scottish politics has in some ways been shifting to London since 2015."

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