Since standing down as Commons Speaker, John Bercow has lined up a series of lucrative public engagements. The most recent one was an appearance on Italian TV, which came only a few days after his election night punditry on Sky News earned him £60,000. Speaking on the late-night chat show ‘Che Tempo Che Fa’ last Sunday night, the former Speaker of the House of Commons recalled his time at Westminster and talked at length about Brexit.
When asked by Italian presenter Fabio Fazio about the Union and whether it will survive, Mr Bercow gave a shock verdict on Scotland’s independence bid.
He said: “I think it will be very problematic.
“The Prime Minister is technically holding all the cards because of his huge majority at the moment.
“Scotland, though, who is in favour of European Union membership, has an incredible number of SNP MPs who are against Brexit.
How John Bercow gave shock verdict on Scotland’s independence bid
Late-night chat show ‘Che Tempo Che Fa’
“The Government is saying that right now, they cannot opt for independence because they already had a referendum on the issue five years ago.
“This a debate that is not going to solve itself in a matter of days, or weeks.
“I think we will be talking about it for decades.”
Last Thursday, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sent documents to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on outlining her case for indyref2, arguing that she now has an “unarguable” mandate after her SNP won 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats in last week’s general election.
She warned Mr Johnson that a “flat no” to her request – which the Prime Minister has alreadyindicated will be a no – will not be the end of the matter, and predicted that Mr Johnson will eventually have no choice but to agree to her request.
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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
But she also ruled out holding an unofficial referendum similar to the one in Catalonia two years ago, arguing that it would not lead to independence.
Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Friday, Scottish Secretary Alistair Jack said the prime minister would not mark Ms Sturgeon’s letter with “return to sender” – as he had previously pledged he would.
However, he added: “He has received a letter and he is going to give it careful consideration, and will reply in the new year.
“The result of the general election was that 55percent of the votes cast were cast for parties that backed the union – 45percent were for separatist parties and that’s no different to what happened five years ago, in 2014.
In a lecture organised by the right-wing think tank “New Culture forum” last week, famed constitutional historian David Starkey claimed the future of the Union as “unviable”.
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Constitutional historian David Starkey
He said: “We are an utterly unmanageable confederation.
“Because again, you have one unit, England, which is hugely bigger than anybody else.
“We have only got four of them.
“In America, you can have two big states, but because you have a plethora of others, the thing can balance out.
“Trying to federalise the British constitution would depend on breaking up England, which is exactly what the EU tried to do.”
Mr Starkey added: “I would suspect that the Union is probably unviable.
“I would regret is as a northern Englishman, I would deeply regret it.
“But I cannot see how constitutional developments can be squared.”