Well, we can now say one thing for certain - Michael Settle's supposed exclusive in the Herald two weeks ago about how Westminster was running up the white flag on its plans for a power-grab from the Scottish Parliament, and how Nicola Sturgeon was poised to declare that she was satisfied with what's on offer, was a load of old hogwash. It's clear from David Lidington's intervention in the Sunday Telegraph (apparently foreshadowing a key speech) that the London Tories still fully intend to take back some of the powers that were devolved to Scotland in July 1999, and more importantly that they're leaving themselves hardly any wriggle room for a dignified climbdown. How can they declare today that a power-grab is essential for the UK's post-Brexit economic health, and then a few days or weeks later call the whole plan off? Realistically, they can't. And yet we already know that without some sort of substantive climbdown, the Scottish Parliament's pro-independence majority will almost certainly deny legislative consent for the EU Withdrawal Bill - and according to the Sewel Convention, the Bill should not proceed without that consent. The convention is not legally binding (in spite of the con-trick of it being written into law in a completely unenforceable way), but if it's not honoured, "The Vow" will have been demonstrably betrayed. In other words, the chances of a major constitutional crisis - one that would probably stiffen the resolve of the SNP to press ahead with an early indyref - have just increased markedly.
What's puzzling is the strategy behind London's latest move. Whoever briefed Settle earlier this month was obviously guilty of a deception, but at least that person was plainly attempting to pave the way for a deal by giving the impression that Nicola Sturgeon had been given everything she wanted and that it would be totally unreasonable and irrational of her not to sign on the dotted line. Suddenly we're hearing the complete opposite. The new belligerent message that the success of Brexit depends on the powers of the Scottish Parliament being reduced will make it much easier for the SNP to simply say no. Either this is simply dreadful psychology, with the Tories foolishly believing that the Scottish Government will for some reason buckle under pressure from pro-Brexit opinion south of the border, or they actually no longer even want a deal. If it's the latter, hold onto your hats, because we could be moving into the endgame for the Union.