The Scottish standoff will not be decided at Westminster | Martin Kettle

Boris Johnson will have to back massive investment north of the border if he wants to hold back the tartan tide

The possible breakup of the country barely impinged on most British voters during the 2019 general election campaign. For the majority, Brexit was overwhelmingly the dominant issue. But Boris Johnson’s refusal this week to allow Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish government to hold a second independence referendum is a reminder of one of the Brexit election’s most important and umbilically linked consequences.

In Scotland things were, of course, different during the election. Yet even here it is important to recognise that Brexit, not the future of the union, was also at the front of the stage. In the Scottish National party’s 2019 manifesto, Sturgeon is pictured at a rostrum with a single slogan: Stop Brexit. Polling showed two Scottish voters in three thought Brexit a key issue, many more than chose any other subject. No one who followed the campaign in Scotland can seriously dispute that the SNP’s tremendous success on 12 December, when it took 48 of the 59 seats in Scotland, owed at least as much to its opposition to Brexit as to the issue of independence.

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