Boris Johnson’s political tactics against Labour in England might have unintended consequences north of the border
Boris Johnson’s method for protecting the union from Scottish independence is not a secret. He will say no to a second referendum. Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, this week confirmed as much, saying he could not envisage circumstances in which the prime minister would yield to any demand Nicola Sturgeon might make for a plebiscite in the current parliament.
The first independence vote in 2014 was arranged by the coordination of Holyrood and Westminster parliaments. An order under section 30 of the Scotland Act was granted, paving the way for referendum legislation. David Cameron understood how dangerous it would be if an English prime minister used Westminster’s legal supremacy to sabotage Scottish National party plans. It would go against the principle of consent on which the union is founded, inflaming the grievance that most drives support for independence – a feeling that Scots lack control over their national destiny.