Keir Starmer claims Nicola Sturgeon is pitting Scot against Scot
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With six candidates remaining in the race to become the next leader of the Conservative party and Prime Minister, columnist Stephen Daisley argued that the threat of Scottish independence needs to be taken far more seriously by the budding leaders. Writing for the Spectator, Mr Daisley warned of an “extraordinary lack of urgency” from the Conservative party about the “velvet revolution” being conducted by the SNP.
He said Tories “display an extraordinary lack of urgency over a process that could, in theory, conclude with the dissolution of the very country the Conservative leadership contenders aspire to lead”.
He added: “The Union ought to be front and centre in this leadership contest.
“It is under threat in a way entirely unique in its three-century history.”
Describing Scotland’s foreign affairs strategy as a “velvet revolution”, Mr Daisley warned that Westminster’s response to it so far “has been tepid and complacent”.
The Scottish government is openly pursuing its own foreign policy, the Scottish Global Affairs Framework, which “sets out the values, principles and priorities underpinning the Scottish government’s work to become more active internationally”.
This drive to form diplomatic relationships abroad as Scotland also enabled the SNP to impact the process of Brexit.
Ms Sturgeon lobbied the German government on “Scotland’s perspective” on the EU, visiting Dublin and pledging: “On virtually every issue of substance relating to Brexit, the Irish government… has an ally in Scotland.”
She also attacked Brexit in a speech to the French National Assembly, rebuking the UK Government’s negotiating strategy and talking up Scottish independence.
She also stated: “The Scottish government is committed to the European Union.”
Some of the Conservative leadership candidates have made clear their position on Scottish independence.
Penny Mordaunt has said “another divisive referendum” is “the last thing Scotland needs”.
Tom Tugendhat, meanwhile, said of the SNP’s drive for a referendum that they “can’t keep asking the same question hoping for a different answer”.
Mr Daisley pointed out that the 2014 referendum had repeatedly been described as a “once in a generation” opportunity – only for Ms Sturgeon to immediately begin campaigning for another one when it failed to achieve the SNP’s desired result.
Rishi Sunak, instrumental in the collapse of Boris Johnson’s leadership and the current favourite to win the contest, has previously said it is “absolutely not our intention” to hold another independence referendum under any circumstances, describing the UK as the “most enduring and successful union the world has seen”.
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Meanwhile, asked about the Scottish government’s intention to hold a vote on the constitution next October, Mr Sunak told The Herald: “I think that what people across the United Kingdom want their government to focus on, both the Scottish government and the UK government, is on the issues that are front of mind at the moment.
“And that is helping them with the challenges they’re facing with the cost of living. It’s improving our energy security, and it’s driving economic growth.”
Mr Daisley also blamed the “arrogance” of the past for the drive for Scottish Independence.
He said: “The arrogant architects of devolution could not conceive of the SNP ever displacing Labour and so they drew up a devolved apparatus with a strong executive, weak parliament, few checks and balances, and nothing to stop a separatist party from turning these institutions into a battering ram against the UK state.”
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