Underestimate the PM at your peril

Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

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This week, Scottish Nationalist First Minister Nicola Sturgeon demanded a new Scottish independence referendum – despite claiming the last one in 2014 was a “once in a generation” decision unlikely to be revisited soon. And despite the fact that according to polls, most Scots don’t want another angry and divisive plebiscite, setting families and communities, business and government against each other.

The SNP really have no mandate for such a vote – having secured fewer than half the votes cast in the last Scottish Parliament elections and actually losing support. Sturgeon’s announcement was more about trying to upstage the Prime Minister’s bravura performance of having steered the Brexit Bill through Parliament un-amended.

The truth is that the SNP don’t represent the Scottish people – but instead their own pathetic political point scoring and narrow, nationalistic chauvinism based on manufacturing grievance against the English mainly. They’re obsessed with independence and are actually very bad at the mundane and grinding task of actually running Scotland and its public services efficiently. Whether its education, social care, the health service or policing, they’re actually pretty poor at governing. They’re scared of the powers that the UK Government have given them: It’s all a game to them. Ms Sturgeon has taken a huge risk and in my opinion, it’s one she’s going to lose. It’s all bluster and bravado. She’s backed herself into a corner and now has nowhere to go.

In some ways, their constant carping is a deliberate political strategy: the more they do it – they surmise – the more English voters will tire not just of paying for the privilege of being abused (about £1,500 more per head than English residents in terms of public services) but also of the whole notion of the Union and the United Kingdom and will thus react by politely encouraging the Scottish Government to take a hike. Such is their divisive cynicism.

It’s important we resist the temptation: The United Kingdom is still greater as one whole than England would be on its own or even with Wales and Northern Ireland.

I predict that the date of any new referendum (if there is one) will not be of Nicola Sturgeon’s choosing.

Polls will narrow but the Scottish people will vote to stay in the UK. Why wouldn’t they? They have the highest per capita debt in Europe (higher than Greece), the oil price has tanked and it was on that which all the economic predictions of self governing economic viability was based, they may well face a “hard border” with England, would not be permitted to use OUR currency the Pound Sterling and their application to join the EU (which in any case would take years) would be 
vetoed by the Spanish or 
Belgians.

And the English cash for their lavish Government spending would dry up, forcing an independent government to slash public services or hike taxes.

People have underestimated Theresa May before and I suspect Nicola Sturgeon has just made the same mistake.