Scotland’s independence debate resembles the classic US film Groundhog Day.
Just as Bill Murray found himself stuck in a time loop, Scots find themselves trapped in a constitutional impasse.
Barely a month passes without another announcement being made on the long road to I ndyRef2.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon supposedly fired the starting gun on a referendum today by launching a paper showing us what we are missing out on.
The document laid out the differences between Scotland and other small countries, attributing the deficit to not having the full powers of an independent country.
But the only question worth posing was the one Sturgeon dodged, namely whether Holyrood can give Scots a vote on their future.
The 2014 referendum took place on the back of the power being temporarily devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
With the UK Government refusing to do this again, Sturgeon is left with the risky option of a unilateral referendum based on a tight 2023 timescale.
She can introduce a bill and have certainty it will be passed by Holyrood’s pro-independence majority but it could be torpedoed in the courts after a legal challenge.
Sturgeon’s failure to present her much-anticipated indyref2 bill suggests there is real doubt about the Parliament’s power in this area.
One legal expert recently argued that for a Holyrood bill to be legal, it would have to be made explicit that it could not lead to independence.
It would risk becoming, in the words of former SNP Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, a “glorified opinion poll”.
Both sides – Nationalist and Unionist – are letting down voters by not being straight with them.
On an issue of this magnitude, the Scottish Government should publish their legal advice on a Holyrood-only referendum.
The UK Government, rather than simply refusing to engage, should enter into talks about the conditions that need to be met for an agreement on indyref2.
Without a thawing of tensions, Scotland’s tedious Groundhog Day looks likely to continue for years.
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