SNP leader says she will only press for an #IndyRef2, if the UK leaves the Single Market…

The biggest problem in tracking the progress of Brexit (and corollaries) is the fact we know so little about its shape, size and weight. Nicola Sturgeon has just announced her condition for seeking to trigger a second referendum is an exit from the single market.

So, it should be noted, the SNP leader is not going to have her party die in a ditch for membership of the EU alone.

The single market is a good retrenchment, not simply because it aligns nicely with UKLabour (or what’s left of it in Scotland), but because it would align nicely with the question.

Whilst a harsh Brexit would destabilise both the Euro and Sterling currency zones, it could also act as a passive permission to move into the EZ and away from Sterling, a choice that was deliberately blurred last time out by the Yes campaign itself.

Now, it’s not clear that the Mrs May would acceed to the First Minister’s request. It’s in the gift of the UK PM to grant or deny a second indyref so quickly after the first one.

But the strong ‘respect my mandate’ line from London Eurosceptics could easily be turned on them when the evidence is that Scottish voters never wanted to leave in the first place, a refusal might be harder than it might seem at first glance.

Unionist friends on the Brexit side of the EURef seemed convinced that Scottish voters would not choose economic turmoil over the stability of the Sterling Zone. But in making the Single Market the deal breaker, Sturgeon has subtly shifted the goalposts.

Besides, voting for Brexit on largely ideological grounds, kinda puts voting for iScotland on similar in play in ways it simply wasn’t in 2014. Not least because nationalism is now a mainstream concern for the UK.

That’s not to say it’s going to be a done deal. Referendum fatigue could pull out some odd reactions in the Scottish electorate. And as Professor James Mitchell notes, a resurgent Scottish Tory party could be more formidable than the fragmented UNionists last time.

In 2014, supporters of independence were doubly blessed by an impressive Yes campaign and a divided and relatively hapless, if better resourced, opposition. Next time it may be very different. Supporters of independence may struggle to repeat the levels of public engagement and high turnout achieved two years ago.

Their opponents may have learned lessons (though pro-EU campaigners appeared to have adopted many of the same crass Project Fear tactics adopted by Better Together despite evidence that support for the Union won despite these tactics).

While some commentators view the prospect of Ruth Davidson leading the campaign for the union as a gift for the SNP, it would be wrong to underestimate her campaigning abilities. If it was battle for the office of First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon would likely win easily but a referendum is different.

Ruth Davidson is weak when having to defend a position and would seek to avoid having to defend the union. Her strength lies in being on the offensive and she would have most of the Scottish media giving her uncritical support. Governing requires subtlety and nuance but campaigning is best done by crude, relentless focus.

Of course, this is all another reason for the UK government to pay a giant bung to keep access open and avoid the mess of another Scottish poll.