Indyref2 doesn't have to be tomorrow - but soon the UK Gov is going to have to start speaking to the SNP

Originally published in the Sun on Monday, May 10, 2021

EVEN Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t want to schedule a referendum just now.
She realises that, in the midst of a global pandemic and unprecedented economic meltdown, it’s not the reasonable thing to do.
But now the UK Government has to be reasonable too – and a big fat ‘No’ for the next five years isn’t going to cut it.
That’s not to say Boris has to consent to IndyRef2 tomorrow. But he does need to start engaging positively with his Scottish counterparts.
He can’t ignore that the SNP has just cakewalked yet another election. And it was only thanks to the personality of Labour’s Jackie Baillie, who dramatically held on to Dumbarton, that it missed the majority it so craved.
The Tories would have eventually found it impossible to say no to an SNP majority. But it’s easier to stand firmer now the case is being propped up by one of Europe’s worst-performing Green parties
That doesn’t mean they should though.
Before hardline unionists type angrily at me for going soft, I personally never want to see another independence referendum in Scotland.
But it seems the electorate - or at least a large enough chunk to really matter - disagrees.
The UK can’t ignore that every day between now and May 2026.
Why not meet the Nats half-way? Fine, start planning another referendum, but we’ll set the question this time.
For example: “Does Scotland wish to Remain part of the UK, or to Leave?”
That’s two more years of arguing right there, but at least it wouldn’t be a continuation of this unsustainable case-closed approach.
There are plenty of positive arguments to take to the people of Scotland about being part of the UK, not least those which have emerged in the past year.
But if the refusal to even entertain the idea of IndyRef2 continues, how can those wishing to make that case sincerely and convincingly have the space and confidence to do so?