THE Conservative leadership campaign is only just getting under way, but the field is already crowded. No end of unlikely Tory careerists whose ambition vastly exceeds their abilities have announced that they are considering a leadership bid.

Even arch Johnson loyalist and talentless void Nadine Dorries has announced that she is considering throwing her hat into the ring in order to ensure Johnson's legacy is protected – so that would be lies, deceit and corruption then. The last time that Dorries considered a ring it was on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, the ring was a kangaroo's, and she was eating it.

According to a report in the Telegraph, minister for the 18th century and arch-Brextremist Jacob Rees-Mogg is also reportedly considering standing as a “continuity Boris” candidate, may the gods help us all.

There will now be a round of ballots among Tory MPs, who are getting to vote again despite voting just a few weeks ago in a confidence vote that was supposed to settle the matter for a year. It's almost as though they recognise that when circumstances change. people are allowed to change their minds – although not you Scotland, not you.

Unless the backbench 1922 Committee decides to change the rules, the ballots will whittle the contenders down to a final two, who will then face a run-off vote to be decided by the membership of the Conservative Party. 

Neither Scotland nor the rest of the UK will get any say in deciding who the next prime minister is going to be. This is now the third time in the space of six years that the Conservatives will have picked a prime minister without any say from the rest of the UK.

First, after the resignation of David Cameron following the 2016 Brexit vote, when we ended up with Brexit means Brexit Theresa May, who was universally regarded as one of the worst prime ministers in living memory until the Tories ousted her in 2019 and replaced her with Johnson, who was even worse. Now it is Johnson's turn to be ousted, and if the pattern continues, the next prime minister will simply continue and deepen the UK's descent into an authoritarian, corrupt, hyper-nationalist joke.

The next Tory prime minister will possess no popular mandate from the UK as a whole, even less will he or she enjoy even the pretence of democratic legitimacy from the people of Scotland, where the Conservatives have a mere six MPs out of 56.

Despite this, it is likely that this new Conservative prime minister will continue to block the exercise of democracy in Scotland and will be as intransigent as their predecessors in refusing to facilitate a second Scottish independence referendum. No Tory prime minister wants to go down in history as the PM responsible for the break-up of what they insist on telling us, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, is a voluntary partnership of nations.

Leadership contenders Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt have both opined that there should be no second referendum until the 2030s, and we can be quite certain that when that time has passed, a future Tory government in Westminster will still find some spurious reason for refusing to allow a referendum to happen.

Meanwhile, Tom Tugendhat insists that this is indeed a voluntary Union, but just like the Labour Party, refuses to answer questions on how Scotland might exercise its right to end it should it so choose. There is a democratic route to another referendum, but it's super top-secret and Scotland can't be allowed to know what it is.

None of them are going to confess to British nationalism's dirty little secret – this so-called Union was only ever voluntary as long as Westminster believed there was no realistic prospect of Scotland seeking independence. The “voluntary” nature of the Union was only ever so much self-serving British nationalist cant, along with the promise that no Westminster government would ever alter the devolution settlement without the express consent of Holyrood, or Broon's Vow that within three years of a No vote in the 2014 referendum, the UK would be to all intents and purposes a federal state.

The truth is that despite the eagerness of the anti-independence media in Scotland to tell us how important this internal Conservative psycho-drama is for the constitutional future of Scotland, it really no longer matters. Either the UK Supreme Court will rule that a referendum can go ahead without the PM's consent, or the next UK General Election will be a de facto referendum. 

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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