Coronavirus may yet trouble a buoyant Nicola Sturgeon

GLASGOW — Nicola Sturgeon is having a good crisis — on paper, at least.

An Ipsos MORI poll published on May 26 found 82 percent of Scots think the Scottish National Party leader, who heads up Scotland’s semi-autonomous government in Edinburgh, is handling the coronavirus outbreak well and a further 78 percent believe her administration at Holyrood has made the right decisions over the course of the pandemic.

By comparison, just 30 percent of Scots view U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in similarly positive terms.

Buoyed by strong approval ratings, the SNP hopes to secure a nationalist majority in the Scottish parliament in next year’s election and, with it, a second referendum on Scottish independence.

“Rather than killing independence, COVID-19 has seen [Scotland and England’s] paths diverge,” said Kenny McAskill, the SNP MP for East Lothian and former Scottish justice secretary. “As the economic strength of Britain is reduced, the choice of a different future for Scotland is highlighted — and for many that will be critical.”

“She has handled the political side of things exceptionally well” — Rory Scothorne, Edinburgh-based writer and academic

However, the longer-term implications of a projected economic downturn, spiraling public deficits and rising unemployment may yet increase pressure on the SNP.

“The British state is suddenly a much bigger player in the U.K. economy, and if that isn’t substantially diminished after the health threat dies down, it will mean a lot of Scottish voters with a much bigger material stake in the Union than before,” said Rory Scothorne, an Edinburgh-based writer and academic.

Given the U.K.

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