UK’s future just got a little more uncertain


The U.K’s constitutional future swung back into focus yesterday.

In London, Michael Gove, the U.K. minister charged with planning for a no-deal Brexit, complained that the European Union seemed unwilling to negotiate, calling it “sad.” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was in Canada, where he expressed a determination to “fire up” Britain’s economic ties with non-EU partners.

But the most significant intervention of the day came in Scotland. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, used an appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to say the Labour Party would not stand in the way of a second referendum on Scottish independence.

Assuming he has Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn’s backing, that’s not just a challenge to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who refuses to countenance another vote. It turns Labour Party policy in Scotland on its head.

The political calculus seems clear. Labour may well need Scottish National Party votes to form a coalition government if, as is widely speculated, Johnson calls early elections. A Labour-SNP pact could keep the Conservatives out of power and, just possibly, defy a no-deal Brexit.

But the cost is another Scottish referendum, which a poll this week suggested would yield a “Yes” vote to independence.

Many hurdles remain to a referendum, let alone an independent Scotland. But when it comes to countries breaking free, Brexit might just be the start.