Why we should all be grateful for Kenny MacAskill – Brian Wilson

The new MP for East Lothian’s position on another Scottish referendum poses a significant challange to Nicola Sturgeon, writes Brian Wilson

Kenny MacAskill celebrates with supporters after winning in East Lothian. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The seasonal spirit demands a salute to the turbulent MP for East Lothian, Kenny MacAskill.

As first noted a fortnight ago, Mr MacAskill does not believe there will be another Scottish referendum “any time soon”. He has now added: “The likelihood of a referendum in the short-term is slim. Indeed, more likely nil.’

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He is right. But where is the fabled discipline of the SNP? Where is the ominipresent voice of his leader to put him back in his box? A rare silence reigns in Murrell Towers.

Ms Sturgeon’s entire script is based on assuring her followers that a referendum is around the corner and they should keep waving their flags.

But Mr MacAskill poses a significant challenge to her credibility. Does she ignore him and continue to bang on about another referendum? Or does she slap him down in order to defend her own posturing?

Having flown under the false flag of “stopping Brexit”, she now has a decision to make – rely on referendum game-playing or embrace reality and turn attention to securing the best possible deal from the transition period, an option which requires hard work? The two approaches are mutually incompatible.

Many Scots who voted to remain in the EU are ready to move on. They do not assume it will be a complete disaster and as the months roll by upsides as well as downsides may emerge. In that scenario, interest in another referendum will wane rather than grow.

It is surely time for Ms Sturgeon to follow the Macaskill advice – park the referendum phoney war and give us all peace. There is serious work to be done.