DOMINIC Cummings’s lockdown journeys to Durham and Barnard Castle and Boris Johnson’s failure to sack him will increase support for independence, according to Joanna Cherry.

The SNP’s justice and home affairs spokeswoman at Westminster gave the assessment in an article which appears in The National online today as she called on her party to step up developing arguments for independence in the post pandemic context.

She pointed to a Ipsos Mori poll carried out before the Cummings scandal came to light, which reported that 55% of Scots want a referendum within five years – compared to 47% in a YouGov/Times poll conducted around this time last year. 

“So it seems that the desire for a second independence referendum is increasing despite the current crisis. It may increase further,” she said.

“It is noteworthy that the Ipsos Mori polling took place before the Cummings fiasco made a mockery of the British Government. One can only imagine that the reprehensible way in which the whole affair has been handled will increase the desire for Scotland to go its own way.”

Cherry has been competing with former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson to win the internal contest to be selected as the party’s candidate for Edinburgh Central at next year’s Holyrood election. The seat is held by ex-Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, who is standing down as a MSP.

The selection process was to be finalised in the coming weeks but has been put on hold in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. It is not yet known when it will resume. In her article, Cherry calls for the SNP’s economic blueprint for independence drawn up by Andrew Wilson and published in May 2018 to be reviewed to take account of the pandemic.

She adds: “Those of us advocating for a more radical approach would like to see the Common Weal think tank’s blueprint for building a more resilient economy, the first part of which was published today, play a large part in the deliberations needed to produce a strong new economic case for independence.”