Alex Massie

D.I.V.O.R.C.E British style.

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Scotland is already a semi-detached member of the Union and the question, it now seems, is whether the delegation/repatriation of further powers to Holyrood results in a Scotland that is 75% detached from the rest of the UK, or one that decides for whatever constitutes independence these days.

Regardless of what the country decides, the momentum towards having to make that sort of decision seems all but irresistible (I'd add that logic adds its weight to the process too, but that's a different matter). A couple of fresh data points this week: first, this Guardian article "Scotland Awakes" is an unusually reasonable London take on matters north of the border; secondly, and more significantly, BBC Radio 4 broadcasts an analysis of how you might actually go about breaking up Britain: who gets what in the new settlement? You can listen to the programme at 3.30pm EST or download a podcast here.

The significance lies not so much in what is said here, but in that it is being said at all. The biggest challenge the SNP and the independence movement (not quite the same things) have had is getting the idea of independence accepted. That people no longer laugh at the prospect is their single greatest achievement (with assists from London and Brussels admittedly). Once the idea is acceptable then the pivot on which the debate turns has shifted irrevocably in the nationalists' favour and the likelihood of independence  - or greater devolution - is correspondingly multiplied. The game is being played on a nationalist court.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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