ON the eve of the First Minister's statement to Holyrood about the Scottish Government's intention to ensure that a second independence referendum is held next year with or without the permission of Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon has warned UK party leaders that they are taking a "wrecking ball" to the idea of the United Kingdom as a voluntary partnership of nations.

This is a principle that has formed the bedrock of Scottish Unionism ever since the introduction of the democratic franchise, but, given the current behaviour and statements of the leaders of the Labour and Conservative parties, appears to be a lie. It now seems that what was really meant was that the Westminster parties would agree that the United Kingdom is a voluntary union of nations but only as long as they did not think that there was any serious possibility of Scotland voting to end it.

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The First Minister said: “It is time for Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer to respect, not rubbish, the wishes of the people of Scotland and their democratically elected government – and to respect the pledge their parties signed after the 2014 referendum promising that nothing prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose."

Just like Gordon Brown's infamous Vow, just like telling Scotland it needed to vote No in order to guarantee its place in the European Union, just like all the promises of jobs and investment, just like the promise that no British government would ever tamper with the devolution settlement without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament, the only thing Scotland can ever be certain about concerning a statement from Westminster aimed at reconciling Scotland to remaining a part of the United Kingdom is that it cannot be trusted.

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Now we have Conservative politicians and their apologists telling us that another referendum without Johnson's consent would be unlawful. This is a British Government and Conservative party which routinely treats the law with contempt. Johnson acted unlawfully and lied to the Queen when he prorogued Parliament, his ministers have repeatedly been found by the courts to have acted unlawfully yet every single one of them remained in office. The Prime Law Breaker and his Chancellor were both fined by the police for breaking covid lockdown laws but they too remain in office.

The British Government is breaking international law by ripping up the Northern Ireland Protocol and also with its shameful policy of sending asylum seekers on a one way trip to Rwanda.

And we are supposed to believe that this government of liars and law breakers has such a concern for the rule of law that it is prepared to use the courts to overrule democracy in Scotland in order to block the people of Scotland from exercising a right supposedly guaranteed to them by those same people who insist that the United Kingdom is a voluntary union of nations. The hypocrisy is off the charts.