Andrew Castle is Leading Britain's Conversation.
14 March 2017, 12:15
The smack of firm government got Theresa May through yesterday. Let's have more of it, says David Mellor. And the best way for Sturgeon to win an Independence Referendum to give the English the vote.
Savour the moment folks. At last, yesterday, the smack of firm government. And the Brexit Bill got through, because faced with legitimate Prime Ministerial obduracy, opposition in both the Commons and the Lords melted away.
After all the dire predictions about the Brexit Bill being smashed on the rocks of adverse votes in both Houses, it got through unscathed, with the only concession, a commitment to let Parliament vote on the outcome, which would have happened anyway.
That doesn’t mean Mrs May is out of trouble, especially with the Lords, where endless further defeats on other business beckons. And fundamental reform of the Lords surely can’t be delayed much longer.
But she faced them all down yesterday, and whether you are a Brexiteer or not, anyone who believes in democracy should salute a job well done. She is merely giving effect to the outcome of the referendum.
Theresa May showed a similar fighting spirit telling Nicola Sturgeon what to do with her own referendum. May isn’t going to dance to Sturgeon's tune. Good.
In my view, if Sturgeon wants one, she should have an election first. After all, she hasn’t got a majority at Holyrood. And if she gets one, it should be at a time of Mrs May’s choosing, not Mrs Sturgeons. Which is when Brexit is done and dusted.
Mrs Sturgeon is good at commanding the rhetorical high ground, but actually her case is threadbare.
Her party said the previous referendum would settle the issue “for a generation”. So why is she back now? If it’s because of Brexit, she should wait and see the outcome, before plunging the UK into yet another divisive, and spiteful argument over independence.
And who’s she trying to kid that an independent Scotland is viable? They are running a spending deficit of 10% - more than Greece does – and oil revenues are continuing to fall. They haven’t got a currency. And there’s no guarantee they’ll get into the EU. It’s a fraud on the voters for her to maintain with such confidence that Scotland could cope alone.
They couldn’t win last time despite, in a typical Dopey Dave cock up, 800,000 Scots living in England were denied a vote, as were Scottish members of the armed services serving overseas.
But foreign students temporarily in Scotland got a vote. And the Daily Mail found a Herr Mittler from Germany, temporarily in Edinburgh, who was voting for independence! I bet he was. It was beyond satire.
If there’s to be another referendum, all Scottish born people, wherever they now are, have got to be enfranchised.
Can I end by putting in a word for the English. I suspect a lot of English people are fed up with Sturgeon's behaviour. To the point the best way for her to get a majority for an independent Scotland is to give the English the vote. That would settle it!
All that Braveheart stuff before Saturday’s rugby ended in disaster.
Who can seriously doubt a win for Sturgeon in another independence referendum would have the same dire consequence?