Tory leadership race: Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss battle provides SNP with perfect cover for independence referendum push

On Saturday, the SNP announced it would apply to intervene in the Supreme Court case around a second independence referendum.

This makes strategic and political sense, not only due to the neutral terms of the Lord Advocate’s submission to the court, but due to the platform it would provide the mainstream independence movement.

The issue for the SNP’s most vehement critics is they are unable to trot out their favourite ‘indyref2 is the wrong priority line’ without being hypocrites.

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Labour politicians are still able to make the argument, but they are more interested in using the Tory leadership contest to gain broader political capital – the truth is that Scotland is well down on Labour’s priority list.

That leadership debate is the perfect cover for the SNP’s independence push.

It’s hard for any reasonable Scottish Conservative politician, or even UK Conservative politician, to argue there are bigger priorities than indyref2 when their own party has chosen this moment to paralyse the government and choose a new leader.

That decision has led to internal divisions being plastered over the front pages of newspapers and dominating the airwaves.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a visit to the Forge Medical Centre in Parkhead, Glasgow in July. Picture: PA

All the while, members of the public suffer under the worst cost-of-living crisis for decades.

For the SNP, the cost-of-living crisis is both an opportunity and a curse.

It can be used to promote the idea of independence through appealing to Westminster mismanagement, but it is also a very real threat to lives, livelihoods and the Scottish economy.

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Finance secretary Kate Forbes may not want to admit it, but it also brings into question the SNP’s economic record.

The defenestration of Boris Johnson has resulted in a perfect storm, allowing for Nicola Sturgeon to blame Westminster’s navel-gazing for her lack of action on cost-of-living.

It provides an easy ‘what about Westminster’ answer to why the SNP are choosing a national economic crisis as the time to push independence harder than it has since 2014.

The line goes like this: why should Scotland be stopped making big political decisions amid a national emergency when the Conservatives can change the Prime Minister?

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The tired excuse for not negotiating with the SNP of ‘now is not the time’ cannot be effective if it does not also apply to those in power in London.

Unionists are in desperate need of a new strategy.

The first episode of the brand new limited series podcast, How to be an independent country: Scotland’s Choices, is out now.

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

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