GLASGOW, Scotland — It’s a proxy battle that could mean the difference between Scotland hitting the gas for independence or the Edinburgh government continuing its current cautious approach.
Last week it emerged that two heavyweight Scottish National Party politicians — Angus Robertson and Joanna Cherry — will fight it out to become the SNP’s representative for the crucial Edinburgh Central seat at the next election for Scotland’s devolved parliament in May 2021.
Though nothing will change immediately based on the outcome, the race is crucial because it looks set to become a surrogate fight over how hard the pro-EU party pursues its signature policy of independence from the United Kingdom after Brexit.
Robertson and Cherry are both viewed as potential replacements for the sitting SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has recently been forced to deny rumors that she is seeking an escape route from Scottish politics after almost six years running the Scottish government. Critics argue she has been too cautious in pushing for a second national vote — or Indyref2 as it is known.
The race has the potential to be combustive; at its heart it is a battle over the long-term leadership of Scotland’s nationalist movement as it seeks to secure permission to hold the vote from Boris Johnson’s Conservative government at Westminster.
If the SNP can defeat Davidson’s Tory successor, the nationalists will be well placed to extend their existing pro-independence majority inside Scotland’s legislature for another five years.
Edinburgh Central is also notable because the constituency’s current representative is Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson,