THE SNP are hoping Boris Johnson’s premiership boosts support for independence.
After all, polling previously suggested the sight of his blond mop in Number 10 could tip the balance in their favour.
But with little prospect of a Tory Government granting Scotland the power to hold a second referendum any time soon, the party’s best bet might lie with Jeremy Corbyn.
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A snap election resulting in a hung parliament, with Mr Corbyn’s Labour Government relying on the SNP to prop it up, would give the Nationalists valuable leverage.
Professor Sir John Curtice, Scotland’s leading pollster, said there is “no chance” of a Section 30 order, which would transfer referendum powers to Scotland, this side of a general election.
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He said: “What the SNP have to hope for is that this government will either be tempted or forced to go to the country, and as a result they will end up with a new hung parliament in which the SNP potentially have the kind of bargaining power with a minority Labour administration that the DUP currently have with the Tories.
“In those circumstances, then the timetable for a second referendum may well be speeded up, although one suspects that a second EU referendum would come first.”
Ms Sturgeon’s current strategy relies on securing Westminster’s agreement to a referendum, using the 2014 poll as a precedent.
She has stated her preference for a second vote in the latter half of next year, but it seems very unlikely Mr Johnson would agree to this.
Pro-Yes parties winning a majority at the 2021 Holyrood election would help force the issue, but there is nothing compelling Downing Street to play ball.
Sir John, of Strathclyde University, said there is ongoing legal debate about whether the Scottish Government could hold a referendum without a Section 30 order.
He added: “But at the moment, Sturgeon has set her face against that course.”
The polling guru said calls for a second EU referendum, if successful, could also set a precedent for a future Scottish vote.
And while a chaotic no-deal Brexit might bolster the economic case for independence, other problems would need to be tackled.
“If Scotland tried to go back inside the EU, then you’ve then got a border issue [with England]” Sir John said.