Tick Tock. Tick Tock. Time is running out on the Brexit countdown and a general election is in the offing. Following the very British coup to close parliament for most of the time until the no-deal Brexit deadline, we face the growing possibility of an early general election.
This week may determine the course of British and Scottish politics for decades to come. Boris Johnson and his Brexiteer government are playing a dangerous game of high-speed, high-stakes chicken. Now in power for 42 days without winning a single parliamentary vote, BoJo and his acolytes have gamed losing a key no-deal vote and want to go to the country in a general election to seek a mandate from the English electorate.
While they have been threatening rebel Tory MPs with deselection for defying the whip, they have also called off any serious attempts to persuade them to back the government. They cancelled the meeting.
Opinion polls in England show the Tories are ahead. They are squeezing the Brexit Party of Nigel Farage and are leaving Labour and Jeremy Corbyn languishing many points behind. Scotland is certainly different, with the SNP well ahead of the also-rans and the Tories reeling following the resignation of Ruth Davidson. If an early election is in the offing the SNP can look forward to winning seats from the toxic Brexit Tories and others as well.
That doesn’t really matter to BoJo and his pals like Michael Gove, who are not even committed to obeying the law if parliament votes to rule out a no-deal Brexit. We are living in mad political times. The myth of British politics as flexible and the House of Commons as the Mother of all Parliaments has been cruelly exposed. Meanwhile, in Scotland we are reminded that we needn’t and shouldn’t put up with this nonsense. Is this as good as it gets? Is this the “Better Together” that “No” voters were promised in the 2014 independence referendum? Is this the “family of nations” and “respect agenda” working in action? Is this the “strong and stable” the Tories promised?
This week, we learned that Scottish Tories couldn’t agree to stand up for themselves or Scotland at Westminster. They couldn’t even organise offices next to each other, let alone use their votes to secure major concessions. Ruth Davidson was more interested in photo opportunities than meeting her own parliamentarians, let alone marshal their votes to pursue distinct policies or exercise influence. No wonder she has decided to pull stumps.
Family considerations are undoubtedly a major and understandable factor. But having lost any influence that she previously had in Downing Street, her views were ignored by Boris Johnson with the sacking of David Mundell as Secretary of State, and most of her MPs have signed up to team BoJo.
My only disappointment about Ruth Davidson’s resignation statement was that she didn’t also step down as MSP for Edinburgh Central. Having pledged herself to the new UK Prime Minister, the most pro-European city in the country is represented by a Brexit apologist. Edinburgh deserves better. Our economy and thousands of jobs are at stake.
Regardless of whichever comes first: a snap UK General Election or the next Scottish Parliament election, I am happy to make this prediction – there will not be a single Tory MP or constituency MSP elected in the capital.
Edinburgh is a European city and deserves to be represented by politicians who put their country before party.