Hamish Macdonell

The SNP is a strong fighting force. Is May prepared for what lies ahead?

Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement may have taken Westminster by surprise but it wasn’t a shock to her party leadership.

Indeed, by the time the First Minister left her Bute House press conference this afternoon, a new Yes campaign website was already up and running with appeals for money, campaign material and a video from Ms Sturgeon explaining her decision.

That should be another sharp reminder to the unionist parties that they are dealing with a very, very competent electoral machine in the SNP.

This is a party, after all, which has wiped the floor with its opponents in all recent elections and which, crucially, has learned its lessons from its failed independence bid in 2014.

One of those lessons was evident on its new website which is called ref.scot. This will not be indyref2, however much the media want to call it that. The Nationalists will call it refscot, or scotref, reflecting their belief that this is a different fight on a different ground. But, however cold and calculating today’s decision was, there was also emotion behind it.

If you want to find out where the First Minister’s impetus came from, then listen to the aside from Ms Sturgeon this morning when she talked about the impending Article 50 decision.

The First Minister made it clear that she was frustrated and angry that, as the leader of Scotland’s government, she had no idea when Article 50 was going to be triggered.

This was just one example of what she claimed was the lack of trust, respect and cooperation from the UK Government towards Scotland.

To put it bluntly: she has been irked that she has been left out of all the preparations for the triggering of Article 50 and, in fact, the entire Brexit process. If

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