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Sturgeon is preparing for a new Scottish independence battle

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Nicola Sturgeon is gathering her forces once more for another tilt at Scottish independence. Her strategy has been a careful one; too careful for some. Thus when she called for an independence referendum in 2016 she already knew that an embattled Theresa May could not possibly grant it. This was a tactical advance that allowed her to measure the appetite for a second referendum at Holyrood and in Scotland while reminding Westminster that the issue would never go away.

Before the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 Napoleon restrained his generals when the Russian and Austrian forces attempted to cajole the French army’s right flank into a premature skirmish. He knew it was not the right time and place. “The enemy is making a false move, why should we interrupt him,” said Napoleon. It seems that Scotland’s first minister has been urging her chief strategists in a similar vein.

The two-year Brexit negotiations between Westminster and Brussels have barely advanced towards anything meaningful, bogged down by the sheer arrogance of David Davis and the pantomime antics of Boris Johnson. Inevitably, there would come a point when the Scottish government would extract a price for having in effect been locked out of the negotiations. It was just a matter of being prepared to exploit it when the moment presented itself, as it did with some theatre two weeks ago. When Westminster debated the EU withdrawal bill, Sturgeon found that she didn’t really need to do much at all: the scarecrow right wing of the Conservatives was doing her work for her.

In recent months,........

© The Guardian