Scottish independence: Referendum Act plans show how far pro-Union strategy has fallen

Liz Truss could be set to pass a ‘Referendum Act’ of her own to formally legislate and set out the conditions for a second independence referendum in Scotland, reports suggest.

The plans – remarkably similar to those put forward by Scottish secretary Alister Jack in interviews in recent years – suggest polls must show 60 per cent of Scots want a referendum before one happens and that 50 per cent of the electorate must vote Yes for independence to be guaranteed.

How far the pro-Union side, led by the Conservatives in London, have slipped if this is all they have to offer the people of Scotland.

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The fact of the matter is this legislation would be democratic in the narrow sense of a majority of MPs in the House of Commons voting it through.

The legislation would be, however, a radical rewriting of established democratic principles, even if the principle of formalising a route to independence is not.

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It also represents an intellectual bankruptcy within the Conservative party, which seemingly cannot look beyond the walls of its own members at potential solutions to the independence question.

Imagine the uproar – and Nicola Sturgeon is right to point this out – of David Cameron weighting the Brexit referendum in the way suggested?

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Reports suggest Liz Truss will pass a 'Referendum Act' setting out radical changes around an independence referendum.

Not only would the vote have never taken place, given Leave not once hit that mythical 60 per cent mark in polling, but the referendum would simply have been labelled null and void given the 72 per cent turnout.

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It is also true it is as much about trapping Sir Keir Starmer between a rock (his pro-union soundings) and a hard place (any sort of hope of a revival in Scotland).

However, the Labour leader is lucky in that he doesn’t need Scotland to win the next general election.

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One of the SNP’s most potent arguments in favour of independence is around Scotland’s democratic deficit.

Plans like this will only harden views of floating voters in the SNP’s favour and, while economic arguments may convince people of the benefit of the UK when the sun shines, when the rain pours it is harder to argue you’d be drier if you stuck around.

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The pro-Union strategy is in desperate need of a renaissance.

Such a regeneration is unlikely to come from the Conservatives under Ms Truss.

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All episodes of the brand new limited series podcast, How to be an independent country: Scotland’s Choices, are out now.

It is available wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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