Brexit seems to be taking us into a game of three-dimensional chess. We have Jacob Rees-Mogg talking about how the UK could take advantage of a long Brexit delay by vetoing the EU budget or deeper integration, but that probably isn't what's in his mind at all - he's more likely hoping that decision-makers on the continent will hear his words and be spooked into thinking that British membership of the EU is more trouble than it's worth, and that they should just veto the extension. It's a long shot, but the ERG have got nothing to lose by trying. Meanwhile, Theresa May has turned her back on No Deal, not because she actually cares about the economic well-being of the country she leads, but apparently because of her obsession with "the precious union" and her belief that No Deal might lead to Scottish independence and/or a united Ireland.
Superficially, you can kind of see her point. I certainly believe that it's naive of some Yes supporters to think that the SNP's two key objectives of revoking Article 50 and securing independence somehow complement each other. In reality, revocation would probably lead to independence going on the backburner for a good few years. Indy is only an immediate issue because of Brexit - so take Brexit away and we'd almost inevitably be looking at a longer timescale. Intuitively you'd think that must also mean a hard Brexit makes independence more likely than a soft Brexit would, with No Deal offering the biggest opportunity of a breakthrough. But I'm not sure that's true anymore. It could be that the one thing worse for the precious union than No Deal is a compromise Brexit jointly authored and jointly delivered by Labour and Tory. It remains to be seen whether Corbyn and May can reach an agreement, and the odds are probably still against it, but if by any chance that happens it could be the death-knell for the union. By that stage, the entire London political establishment (with the unimportant exceptions of the Lib Dems and Change UK) would be equally implicated in a relatively hard Brexit that takes us out of the single market and ends freedom of movement. The SNP and independence would be the only game left in town for passionate Remainers.
In any case, I'm puzzled as to why Labour seem so tempted to close a deal, because it's surely obvious that there will be an incentive for budding Tory leadership contenders to pledge that they will rat on anything that is agreed with Corbyn. Labour support for the Withdrawal Agreement could end up being banked in return for absolutely nothing.
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I'm glad to see the Greens keeping the SNP leadership honest on independence by insisting on a pre-2021 referendum in line with the current mandate. And it actually doesn't matter to me whether or not Iain Macwhirter is right that they're only doing so as a clever way of wooing SNP voters, because the fact that it makes such clear tactical sense for them is in itself a triumph for the Yes movement. It wasn't all that long ago that the Greens had an anti-independence co-leader in the shape of Robin Harper, and I used to genuinely worry (I recall writing about it on this blog) that they might abandon their support for independence after a No vote in the indyref. It's even more recently that the Greens were carefully positioning themselves as more moderate than the SNP on the Section 30 issue by stating that it would be irresponsible and unthinkable to hold a referendum without Westminster's agreement. The fact that they've swung the other way now is testament to the power of the "Yes constituency". Left-leaning politicians can no longer afford to ignore us and our aspirations if they want to be electorally successful. (Labour have been ignoring us for years, and look what's happened to them.)