IT’LL be all over by Christmas! Where have we heard that one before? Regardless of the precise outcome of the December 12 General Election, only one thing is absolutely certain: nothing will be settled in British politics.

Which means the incoming cohort of SNP MPs – hopefully more than 50 of them – will have just as hard a job as in the previous parliament. In fact, I suspect they are going to have even more to do, if Scotland is to quit the Union in the next couple of years.

Spoiler alert: all Johnson’s “get it done” Brexit guff is deliberate camouflage. It ignores the salient fact that his current “withdrawal” agreement sets the ground rules for another 12 months (at least) of hard negotiations over the actual economic relationship between the post-Brexit UK and Europe. Johnson is pretending he will definitely sign such a final trade arrangement by December 2020, but many things are likely to get in the way.

Just wait till Boris has to cross the Ts and dot the Is on a fishing policy, for instance. Just wait till the Tory ERG headbangers and Nigel Farage start to manoeuvre for abandoning these negotiations in favour of the hard exit on WTO rules that they really want. Expect another Tory parliament (even a majority one) to be just as factious and Brexit-dominated as the last one. Which means our SNP MPs will be spending a lot of time in the chamber.

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There is much sotto voce talk in the Yes movement about the SNP boycotting Westminster. But that won’t work. The Brexit crisis will roll on for at least another year – more likely several years, as there is no way a free trade deal with the EU can be settled by next December.

So, we will need SNP members to stay at Westminster to fight a rearguard action while the Tories do their best to sell out Scottish fisheries again (as Edward Heath did, first time round). Or sell the NHS to the Americans. Abstention, in these circumstances, is not an option.

That said, the tactics SNP MPs employ if Boris has a majority will have to change. A clear Tory majority means Boris can steam-roller bills through Parliament, or at least try to. Meanwhile, if Labour are defeated, the comrades will turn on Corbyn and descend into a brotherly (and sisterly) gang war – letting Boris off the hook. In these circumstances, it will fall to the SNP to be the real official Opposition, as we were in the months immediately after Ed Miliband’s election defeat in 2015.

However, acting as the Opposition will not be easy. With John Bercow off writing his memoirs, his replacement as Speaker will not be as active or interventionist – otherwise they won’t get elected to the chair. Getting SNP amendments selected for debate will be that much harder. Having urgent questions selected, in order to question wayward ministers, will be less automatic. Given these circumstances, SNP MPs should be less willing to play by the gentleman’s club rules that dominate the Palace of Westminster.

The time will have come – finally – for SNP MPs to start a campaign of disruption similar to that pursued by Parnell and the Irish Nationalists back in the 1880s. We need to be a nuisance as much as an opposition. This strategy will become paramount after Boris refuses a Section 30 order for a second independence referendum, as refuse he will. If the desire of the Scottish people to decide their own future is deliberately thwarted by Westminster, then SNP MPs can’t just while away their days making speeches to an empty chamber.

Since the days of Parnell, Westminster has tightened up the procedural rules to limit the ability of opposition members to disrupt the business of the House. But I’m sure SNP MPs are a creative bunch and can invent new ways of holding up business till they force a Section 30 or block anti-Scottish Brexit legislation. The voting lobbies can be occupied, for instance, to prevent Tory votes being cast. Wrecking amendments to bills at committee stage are easier to deploy than in full debates in the chamber. Points of order can be marshalled in salvoes. All of this takes coordination and dedication – there’s no point in the occasional walk-out or nuisance tactic. This would be a long war of attrition till the Tories got fed up and let Scotland go.

What happens if Labour either wins, or is the largest party? Current polls suggest otherwise but it seems inconceivable that Labour won’t pull back some of the Tory lead as the election campaign gears up. The current Tory advantage is due to votes switching back from the Brexit Party. But this pro-Boris transfer of votes has peaked. Once Corbyn and McDonnell start getting their message out, Labour’s share of the poll will rise. Let’s assume Labour can form a minority government with tacit SNP and LibDem support. The mood music from Corbyn and McDonnell is that they would grant a Section 30 on proof that Scottish voters want a second indyref – which undoubtedly hinges on a pro-independence majority being elected at the May 2021 Holyrood elections.

Such a deal would give the minority Labour government a couple of years of security to launch what would be the most radical remake of British society since 1945.

I suspect the SNP leadership – and most of the Yes movement – could live with this. But there remains a swarm of flies in the political ointment. For starters, we can’t trust the Lib Dems, who I guarantee will prefer Boris and Brexit to supporting Corbyn and indyref2.

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Secondly, SNP MPs will have to pledge to vote for Corbyn’s full frontal assault on British capitalism, or it’s no to Section 30. Alas, I can think of a number of SNP elected members who ideologically are more social democratic – if not outright pro-market – than they are socialist.

Finally, of course, can we really trust Labour to deliver a Section 30? When push comes to shove, the social patriotic Labour apparatus and trades unions (north and south of the Border) will balk at giving Scotland a ticket to quit the Union. Which brings us back to the willingness of SNP MPs to hold a Corbyn government to its promises, both to Scotland and the British working class. We need to test Corbyn’s resolve from Day One.

Conclusion: SNP tactical support for Corbyn should not be bartered solely for a Section 30 order. SNP MPs should demand a Labour government agrees to direct Scottish Government involvement in any negotiations with the EU and also to accept unanimity of all four UK nations in reaching any agreement.

In addition, Labour ministers must sanction wider borrowing powers for Holyrood; full freedom for the new Scottish National Investment Bank to decide its own lending rules; direct representation of all four nations on the Bank of England; Holyrood control over immigration; and removal of nuclear weapons from Scottish soil.

None of these latter demands requires legislation, merely the assent of a Corbyn Cabinet. If Scotland does not get such assent, then we know we can’t trust Labour. Then it’s back to parliamentary disruption till we get a Section 30.